October industrial production: consistent with a very slow expansion

October industrial production: consistent with a very slow expansion

 – by New Deal democrat

I call industrial production the King of Coincident Indicators, because more often than any other metric it coincides with the peaks and troughs of economic activity as determined by the NBER, the official arbiter of recessions.

Unlike retail sales, the news this morning for October was not so good. While manufacturing production did increase +0.2% to a new post-pandemic high, overall production declined -0.1% for the month. Also, July and August’s production numbers were revised down -0.1% each, and September’s strong number was revised down -0.4% to only +0.1%. As a result, total production has gone nowhere in the three months since July:

This sideways trend in total production is frequently observed before recessions, but it also coincides with slowdowns during expansions (see, e.g., 2018-19), so is not particularly dispositive of anything. Unfortunately FRED does not have a tool for creating 3 month moving averages (the one big shortfall of that site imo), but I can approximate showing you this via a graph of the quarter over quarter change for the past 60 years ending with the July-September quarter:

Note, for example, the negative q/q reads during the 1966 and 2016 slowdowns. 

This is a report consistent with a very slowly expanding economy, but one that is not yet in recession.

Strong September Industrial Production,” Angry Bear, angry bear blog