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Thursday, January 26, 2012

The New (and Improved) Leading Economic Indicator Shows Expansion

Bloomberg details:

The Conference Board’s gauge of the outlook for the next three to six months increased 0.4 percent after climbing 0.2 percent in November, the New York-based group said today. The median forecast of 44 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a gain of 0.7 percent.

The article also outlines a change in a major component of the index (the first change in the index since 1996):
Changes in the components of the leading index were announced earlier this month. Instead of the inflation-adjusted money supply, the Conference Board used its own Leading Credit Index, which aggregates measures of the yield curve, interest- rate swaps and the Fed’s senior loan officer survey. The Institute for Supply Management’s supplier deliveries gauge was replaced by the group’s index of new orders.
The change from money supply to credit index is a major change, removing a component that was directly in the hands of the Fed (money supply), with one that is only partially in the hands of the Fed (credit index). Note that in past months, EconomPic has removed the money supply component, as well as stock and interest rate components, for an index excluding Fed involvement.

A comparison of the new (revised) index, the old index, and the "EconomPic" index that excluded Fed control is shown below. What we see is the new index is much more aligned with one excluding the Fed's control and shows the index likely overstated underlying economic strength over the summer.