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Economy in Brief

Chicago Fed National Activity Index Strengthens
by Tom Moeller  May 22, 2017

The National Activity Index from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago increased to 0.49 during April from 0.07 in March. It was the firmest reading since November 2014. The three-month moving average also strengthened to 0.23, its highest level since December 2014. During the last ten years, there has been a 76% correlation between the Chicago Fed Index and the q/q change in real GDP.

Performance amongst the component series was mixed during April. The Production & Income reading jumped to 0.46, also its highest level since 2014. The Employment, Unemployment & Hours figure rose modestly to 0.10 from 0.05, but remained below the February high. Weakening versus March was the Sales, Orders & Inventories figure which fell to 0.00, the weakest reading in three months. The Personal Consumption & Housing indicator deteriorated m/m and remained negative. The Fed reported that 46 of the 85 component series made positive contributions to the total last month while 39 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.

Measuring Trend Inflation with the Underlying Inflation Gauge from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York can be found here.

Chicago Federal Reserve Bank Apr Mar Feb Apr '16 2016 2015 2014
National Activity Index (percent) 0.49 0.07 0.15 -0.09 -0.10 -0.19 0.14
 3-Month Moving Average 0.23 0.00 0.14 -0.27 -- -- --
  Personal Consumption & Housing -0.08 -0.06 -0.08 -0.02 -0.06 -0.08 -0.11
  Employment, Unemployment & Hours 0.10 0.05 0.18 -0.07 0.02 0.08 0.18
  Production & Income 0.46 0.01 0.02 0.04 -0.05 -0.16 0.05
  Sales, Orders & Inventories 0.00 0.07 0.03 -0.04 0.00 -0.02 0.03
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