Monday, June 8, 2009

Sunday Night Economic Assessment

The recession is over. That is the message in the gas-flows today, as the production index finally broke its 9-week string of declines last week on quickly-ramping industrial gas-flow scheduling, continued gains were seen in the consumption index, and the Inventories index continued its steep decline... giving up now better than 2/3rds of its former overhang.

Higher natgas imputs into industrial facilities are consistent with higher production, higher profit margins (or declining losses), and higher employment (we have likely begun rehiring), so I suspect May will be the top of the unemployment spike in most states..... except.....(gulp)..... perhaps Robry's home state of Michigan. Michigan remains a mess!

Within the production index last week (on a daily basis) most industry groups (with the noteworthy exception of automotive) continued improvements in their dailies. Even the much-beleaguered steel group turned and showed a minor scheduling improvement. Overall, I took it to be a fourth good week-in-a-row economically (if the data is correct), though everything-automotive continued to suffer.

Overall, the recovery to me looks to be both progressing and loosing its fragility. With most of the implied inventory overhang now gone, and production lagging consumption by a wide margin, I believe the recovery has (to borrow a term from nuclear physics) reached its point of critical mass... where a recovery is self-perpetuating, fueling itself on waves of rehiring, consumer-income gains, and consumer-spending gains... until its fuel (of excess manufacturing capacity) is finally spent and the federal reserve has to step in and raise rates to cool the whole thing off... or until government wises up to the dual needs of both consumers and producers.