Haver Analytics
Haver Analytics

Economy in Brief: January 2024

    • Federal funds rate target range is unchanged at the highest level since March 2001.
    • Committee expresses caution regarding next rate move.
    • Two percent inflation continues to be Fed’s primary goal.
    • Trend growth in employment continues to weaken.
    • Service sector job growth slows. Goods producing steady.
    • Pay increases continue to slow.
    • The headline index fell to 46.0, pointing to continued decline in activity.
    • The production subindex plummeted by nearly 10 points.
    • Employment remained below the critical 50 level.
    • Input prices continued to rise though more slowly than in December.
    • ECI up 0.9% in Q4, least since mid-2021.
    • Wages & salaries also up 0.9%, noticeably less than 1.2% in Q3.
    • Goods-producing industries compensation up 1.0% in Q4; service-producing industries compensation 0.9%.
    • Applications fall after three weeks of increase.
    • Purchase applications decline sharply but refinancing gains.
    • Long-term interest rates remain at seven-month low.
  • Only 38% of the countries in the table show inflation accelerating in December. Inflation is much more broadly decelerating right now. In November, the accelerating/decelerating split was even.

    Inflation has been moving lower, but its breadth across these 14 countries is above 50% showing more acceleration than deceleration, over three months and six months. The 3-month diffusion rate is 61.5%, the 6-month diffusion is a very high 92.3%. Still, year-on-yar inflation is decelerating on balance just about everywhere with a diffusion score of 7.7%. Inflation over 12 months accelerates compared to 12-months before that only in Luxembourg, hardly a regional bellwether.

    Moreover, despite what the diffusion data tell us, over three months prices are falling by more where they are falling compared to the speed of increases where they are rising. The seven country-level prices that showed inflation increase over three months averaged gains of 5.9% compared to the seven categories with prices declining that show the average decline of 8.8%. The medians also show this with the median gain where there are price rises at 4.7% vs. the median decline of 5% where there are declines. These statistics juxtapose breadth vs. the intensity of a directional move.

    Over six months not only is the tendency to accelerate broader (92% of respondents) but where prices are rising the average gain is 12.5% compared to an average decline of 9.3% where prices are falling. And when we shift to explore the median statistic where there are prices rising, the median price rise is 2.6% compared to the median drop being 2.1% where prices are dropping.

    Year-on-year 13 of 14 PPI price indexes, are both decelerating compared to a year ago and falling compared to their year-on-year pace. So, inflation trends and tendencies are becoming more mixed, over shorter horizons. But in the aggregate, inflation rates are moving into a lower trajectory.

    • Present situations reading surges again.
    • Expected conditions index gains for third straight month.
    • Inflation expectations lowest in four years.
    • Openings increased 101k to 9.026 million with upward revision to November.
    • Hires increased 1.2% after declines in both October and November.
    • Quits fell for the fourth consecutive month while layoffs rose.