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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chicago Fed National Activity Index Shows Moderate Growth
by Tom Moeller  January 22, 2013

The Chicago Federal Reserve reported that its National Activity Index (CFNAI) for December fell to 0.02 from a revised 0.27 in November, last month reported as 0.10. The three-month moving average ticked slightly higher to -0.11. While that was the tenth consecutive negative monthly reading, it was improved from -0.59 in September. For 2012 as a whole, the index deteriorated to -0.19 from -0.06 in 2011. During the last ten years, there has been an 81% correlation between the Chicago Fed Index and the q/q change in real GDP.

Deterioration in the Production & Income component accounted for most of the index's fall last month followed by a lower Personal Consumption and Housing series. Offsetting these declines were improvements in the Employment, Unemployment & Hours series as well as the Sales, Inventories & Inventories figure. The Chicago Fed reported that during December 41 of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the index while 44 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.

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


Chicago Federal Reserve Bank Dec Nov Oct  Dec'11 2012 2011 2010
CFNAI 0.02 0.27 -0.61 0.67 -0.19 -0.06 0.04
 3-Month Moving Average -0.11 -0.13 -0.59 0.16 -- -- --
  Personal Consumption & Housing -0.17 -0.14 -0.23 -0.27 -0.22 -0.30 -0.30
  Employment, Unemployment & Hours 0.09 -0.02 0.09 0.25 0.07 0.12 0.03
  Production & Income 0.12 0.49 -0.42 0.46 -0.00 0.09 0.22
  Sales, Orders & Inventories -0.01 -0.06 -0.06 0.19 -0.04 0.04 0.09
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