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Economy in Brief

Chicago Fed National Activity Index Reverses Earlier Improvement
by Tom Moeller  September 24, 2015

The Chicago Federal Reserve reported that its National Activity Index (CFNAI) during August collapsed to -0.41 after jumping to 0.51 in July, revised from 0.34. Ironing out this volatility was the three-month moving average which remained fairly stable near break-even, its best level since January. During the last ten years, there has been a 77% correlation between the Chicago Fed Index and the q/q change in real GDP.

The Production & Income component again was responsible for most of the volatility in the overall index. It declined to -0.30, reversing most of July's improvement. The Sales, Orders & Inventory component also eased to its lowest reading in three months and the Employment, Unemployment & Hours index declined to its lowest point since March. The Personal Consumption & Housing series eased slightly to -0.08 from -0.06. The Fed reported that 25 of the 85 component series made positive contributions to the total while 60 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 Aug Jul Jun Aug '14 2014 2013 2012
CFNAI -0.41 0.51 -0.07 -0.33 0.21 0.01 -0.05
 3-Month Moving Average 0.01 0.02 -0.10 0.16 -- -- --
  Personal Consumption & Housing -0.08 -0.06 -0.08 -0.08 -0.11 -0.14 -0.20
  Employment, Unemployment & Hours -0.01 0.18 0.12 0.08 0.18 0.10 0.09
  Production & Income -0.30 0.36 -0.12 -0.13 0.11 0.03 0.06
  Sales, Orders & Inventories -0.03 0.03 0.02 -0.21 0.04 0.03 -0.00
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