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Economy in Brief

by Robert Brusca  May 9, 2011

The OECD's Leading Economic Indices show that the US and the OECD area each indicate that expansion is continuing. The LEIs plummeted in recession, rebounded strongly to signal recovery then dipped back to zero for both the US and for the whole of the OECD region. But since dipping, the US and OECD indicators are starting to elevate again. The table shows that over six-months, which is the preferred venue by the OECD itself, the OECD's overall measure, the OECD-7 country indicator and US OECD index all are on the rise and are accelerating again. On that score the US measure is leading.

Still the OECD report is lacking a lot of detail. We do not get a separate index for Japan this month. Moreover, there are new events as the European debt crisis seems to have kicked up some dust again. The OECD report is topical only through March and we are now entering May. The US has turned up some irregular data; the UK is showing relatively new signs of slowing. And, in the Euro-Area, the ECB which had started a tightening campaign, has opted to go back to the declines for a while and wait out new developments.

The OECD data can only reassure so much. While they do look ahead the fresher data and events raise some new issues about growth and pertaining to its sustainability. The most timely data today show a new downgrade for Greece by Moody's and S&P. Clearly we are in a dynamic situation. Commodity prices have been taken out of their uptrend a lot about current outlook has been set on edge and has become a bigger unknown.

OECD Trend-Restored Leading Indicators
  Growth:M/M Growth Progression-SAAR
  Mar-11 Feb-11 3Mos 6Mos 12Mos Yr-Ago
OECD 0.1% 0.1% 1.5% 1.7% 0.3% 10.5%
OECD7 0.1% 0.2% 1.8% 2.0% 0.0% 10.7%
OECD US 0.2% 0.3% 3.2% 3.4% 1.1% 11.5%
  Six Months Six Month Readings at 6-Mo Intervals
  Change in 6M Avg Recent Six 6Mo Ago 12Mo Ago 18Mo Ago
OECD 0.3% 0.1% 1.7% -1.1% 6.9% 14.2%
OECD7 0.2% -0.1% 2.0% -1.9% 7.1% 14.5%
OECD US 0.8% 0.4% 3.4% -1.2% 8.6% 14.4%
Slowdowns indicated by BOLD RED
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