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Economy in Brief

Chicago Fed National Activity Index Indicates Subpar Growth
by Tom Moeller  June 22, 2015

The Chicago Federal Reserve reported that its National Activity Index (CFNAI) during May notched up to -0.17 from -0.19 in April, revised from -0.15. The three-month moving average remained negative at -0.16, up from its low in March. During the last ten years, there has been a 73% correlation between the Chicago Fed Index and the q/q change in real GDP.

Two of the four component series improved slightly last month. The Production & Income reading of -0.17 versus -0.19 in April left the figure just above January's low. Sales, Orders & Inventories at 0.00 remained in the middle of the range since early last year. The Personal Consumption & Housing series was unchanged at -0.09, the best level of the year. The Employment, Unemployment and Hours figure of 0.10 also was constant and up from the low in March. The Fed reported that 35 of the 85 component series made positive contributions to the total while 50 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 May Apr Mar May '14 2014 2013 2012
CFNAI -0.17 -0.19 -0.13 0.17 0.21 0.01 -0.05
 3-Month Moving Average -0.16 -0.20 -0.24 0.30 -- -- --
  Personal Consumption & Housing -0.09 -0.09 -0.10 -0.14 -0.11 -0.14 -0.20
  Employment, Unemployment & Hours 0.10 0.10 -0.04 0.14 0.18 0.10 0.09
  Production & Income -0.17 -0.19 -0.01 0.12 0.11 0.03 0.06
  Sales, Orders & Inventories 0.00 -0.01 0.02 0.06 0.04 0.03 -0.00
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