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Economy in Brief

Chicago Fed Index Fell Further
by Tom Moeller February 23, 2009

The January National Activity Index (CFNAI) from the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank remained depressed at -3.45 after December's level of -3.65. The December figure was revised lower from the initial estimate and the latest numbers were near the series' historic low. Since 1970 there has been a 75% correlation between the level of the index and the q/q change in real GDP.

The three-month moving average of the index of -3.41 was its lowest since January of 1975.

An index level at or below -0.70 typically has indicated negative U.S. economic growth. A zero value of the CFNAI indicates that the economy is expanding at its historical trend rate of growth of roughly 3%.

The complete CFNAI report is available here and the historical data are available in Haver's SURVEYS database.

Each of the four sub-categories of the index including employment, production, income, consumption & housing made a negative contribution to the January index. Sixty two of the individual indicators in the overall series made negative contributions while twenty three made a positive contribution.

The CFNAI is a weighted average of 85 indicators of economic activity. The indicators reflect activity in the following categories: production & income, the labor market, personal consumption & housing, manufacturing & trade sales, and inventories & orders.

In a separate survey, the Chicago Fed indicated that its Midwest manufacturing index fell during December to its lowest level since late 1996. Indicators for the steel, machinery, resource and auto sectors each fell.

The Chicago Federal Reserve figures are available in Haver's SURVEYS database.

Today's Joint Statement by the Treasury, FDIC, OCC, OTS, and the Federal Reserve can be found here.

Chicago Fed January December January '08 2008 2007 2006
CFNAI -3.45 -3.65 -0.55 -1.77 -0.37 0.01
  3-Month Average -3.41 -2.70 -0.55 -- -- --
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