Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Morning Economic Assessment

The vacation is over, as is this falls advance in the US Industrial economy (if pipeline scheduling is correct). Industrial production has backed off and gas-flow internals soured. Consumption, following last months "$40-a-week-payroll-tax-in-two-months" congressional signal, reversed its plunge and is trying to make a stand.

The Production Index (In terms of its 28-day moving average of gas-flow scheduling into US industrial facilities) peaked January 9th (124.4), just shy of its 05/31/11 all-time high (124.8). It then went on to complete three down-weeks in a row, declining slowly to 123.0 (vs last weeks 124.2). In its raw dailies (above) for the week just completed, the measure was slightly soft overall.

The Consumption Index conversely had its second straight weekly gain, rising to 142.7 (from last weeks 136.9), and just set high for the fall recovery. In its dailies the measure started the week strong then sharply weakened midweek-on.

The Inventories measure (the cumulative weekly difference between the Production Index and the Consumption Index), continued its long-term decline.

Internally, the consumption-spurt (which centered around the 01/19 through 01/24 period) was not well supported, with steel-plant inputs (indicative of durable-goods) flat, and food-group scheduling in January bearishly soaring to multi-year highs. Worse, the peak in the consumption index is following the peak in the production index, and (unless consumption can turn the production index and not vice-versa) puts the momentum back into the hands of a bearish production index (this will have to be watched... if it does pan out it is both rare, and frightening).

Overall, the economy is adrift, with the sound of thunder in the dead-still air.

Congress (and the Federal Reserve) need to get their acts together.