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Economy in Brief

Chicago Fed National Activity Index Pulls Back
by Tom Moeller  January 23, 2015

The Chicago Federal Reserve reported that its National Activity Index (CFNAI) for December declined to -0.05 from its decade's long high of 0.92 in November, revised from 0.73. The three-month moving average declined to a still-high 0.39. During the last ten years, there has been a 76% correlation between the Chicago Fed Index and the q/q change in real GDP.

Lack of improvement was evident in each of the component series last month. The Production & Income component posted the largest decline to -0.12 following a November surge. The Personal Consumption & Housing series also fell to -0.12, its lowest level in three months. The Employment, Unemployment & Hours figure worked lower to 0.16 while Sales, Orders and Inventories were unchanged. The three-month moving average of the total slipped. The Fed reported that forty of the 85 component series made positive contributions to the total while 45 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'13 2014 2013 2012
CFNAI -0.05 0.92 0.29 -0.18 0.21 -0.00 -0.05
 3-Month Moving Average 0.39 0.54 0.10 0.20 -- -- --
  Personal Consumption & Housing -0.12 -0.03 -0.09 -0.16 -0.11 -0.14 -0.20
  Employment, Unemployment & Hours 0.16 0.21 0.24 0.02 0.17 0.09 0.09
  Production & Income -0.12 0.71 0.05 0.05 0.12 0.03 0.06
  Sales, Orders & Inventories 0.03 0.03 0.10 -0.10 0.03 0.03 -0.00
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