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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chicago Fed Index Backpedals
by Tom Moeller December 22, 2011

The Chicago Fed's National Activity Index (CFNAI) fell during November to -0.37 from -0.11 in October, which was little-revised. The three-month moving average was unchanged at -0.24, its lowest level since June. The figures have been negative for most of this year. During the last ten years there has been an 83% correlation between the Chicago Fed Index and the q/q change in real GDP.

A decline in the Production & Income component reversed its earlier improvement while Employment, Unemployment & Hours Series added to its October uptick. Personal Consumption & Housing continued lower while Sales, Orders & Inventories remained unchanged. Thirty-four of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the index in October while 51 made negative contributions.

The CFNAI is a weighted average of 85 indicators of national economic activity. It is constructed to have an average value of zero and a standard deviation of one. Since economic activity tends toward trend growth rate over time, a positive index reading corresponds to growth above trend and a negative index reading corresponds to growth below trend. During August, 41 of the 85 component series made a positive contribution to the overall index while 44 made a negative contribution.

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

Chicago Federal Reserve Bank Nov Oct Sep Nov'10 2010 2009 2008
CFNAI -0.37 -0.11 -0.24 -0.18 -0.02 -1.63 -1.94
 3-Month Moving Average -0.24 -0.24 -0.14 -0.26 -- -- --
  Personal Consumption & Housing -0.29 -0.30 -0.27 -0.33 -0.34 -0.38 -0.26
  Employment, Unemployment & Hours 0.14 0.01 0.18 0.01 0.03 -0.81 -0.67
  Production & Income -0.23 0.16 -0.01 0.04 0.22 -0.27 -0.70
  Sales, Orders & Inventories 0.00 0.01 -0.13 0.10 0.07 -0.16 -0.31
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