Economic indicator

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An economic indicator is a statistic about an economic activity. Economic indicators allow analysis of economic performance and predictions of future performance. One application of economic indicators is the study of business cycles. Economic indicators include various indices, earnings reports, and economic summaries: for example, the unemployment rate, quits rate (quit rate in American English), housing starts, consumer price index (a measure for inflation), consumer leverage ratio, industrial production, bankruptcies, gross domestic product, broadband internet penetration, retail sales, stock market prices, and money supply changes.

Contents

The leading business cycle dating committee in the United States of America is the private National Bureau of Economic Research. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is the principal fact-finding agency for the U.S. government in the field of labor economics and statistics. Other producers of economic indicators includes the United States Census Bureau and United States Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Classification by timing

Equities as leading, GDP as coincident, and business credit as lagging indicator. CycleSandwich.png
Equities as leading, GDP as coincident, and business credit as lagging indicator.

Economic indicators can be classified into three categories according to their usual timing in relation to the business cycle: leading indicators, lagging indicators, and coincident indicators.

Leading indicators

Leading indicators are indicators that usually, but not always, change before the economy as a whole changes. [1] They are therefore useful as short-term predictors of the economy. Stock market returns are a leading indicator: the stock market usually begins to decline before the economy as a whole declines and usually begins to improve before the general economy begins to recover from a slump. Other leading indicators include the index of consumer expectations, building permits, and the money supply. The Conference Board publishes a composite Leading Economic Index consisting of ten indicators designed to predict activity in the U. S. economy six to nine months in future.

Components of the Conference Board's Leading Economic Indicators Index

  1. Average weekly hours (manufacturing) — Adjustments to the working hours of existing employees are usually made in advance of new hires or layoffs, which is why the measure of average weekly hours is a leading indicator for changes in unemployment.
  2. Average weekly initial jobless claims for unemployment insurance — The CB reverses the value of this component from positive to negative because a positive reading indicates a loss in jobs. The initial jobless-claims data is more sensitive to business conditions than other measures of unemployment, and as such leads the monthly unemployment data released by the U.S. Department of Labor.
  3. Manufacturers' new orders for consumer goods/materials — This component is considered a leading indicator because increases in new orders for consumer goods and materials usually mean positive changes in actual production. The new orders decrease inventory and contribute to unfilled orders, a precursor to future revenue.
  4. Vendor performance (slower deliveries diffusion index) — This component measures the time it takes to deliver orders to industrial companies. Vendor performance leads the business cycle because an increase in delivery time can indicate rising demand for manufacturing supplies. Vendor performance is measured by a monthly survey from the National Association of Purchasing Managers (NAPM). This diffusion index measures one-half of the respondents reporting no change and all respondents reporting slower deliveries.
  5. Manufacturers' new orders for non-defense capital goods — As stated above, new orders lead the business cycle because increases in orders usually mean positive changes in actual production and perhaps rising demand. This measure is the producer's counterpart of new orders for consumer goods/materials component (#3).
  6. Building permits for new private housing units.
  7. Stock prices of 500 common stocks — Equity market returns are considered a leading indicator because changes in stock prices reflect investors' expectations for the future of the economy and interest rates.
    Corporate equities as leading indicator with respect to GDP. EquityBDP.png
    Corporate equities as leading indicator with respect to GDP.
  8. Money Supply (M2) — The money supply measures demand deposits, traveler's checks, savings deposits, currency, money market accounts, and small-denomination time deposits. Here, M2 is adjusted for inflation by means of the deflator published by the federal government in the GDP report. Bank lending, a factor contributing to account deposits, usually declines when inflation increases faster than the money supply, which can make economic expansion more difficult. Thus, an increase in demand deposits will indicate expectations that inflation will rise, resulting in a decrease in bank lending and an increase in savings.
  9. Interest rate spread (10-year Treasury vs. Federal Funds target) — The interest rate spread is often referred to as the yield curve and implies the expected direction of short-, medium- and long-term interest rates. Changes in the yield curve have been the most accurate predictors of downturns in the economic cycle. This is particularly true when the curve becomes inverted, that is, when the longer-term returns are expected to be less than the short rates.
  10. Index of consumer expectations — This is the only component of the leading indicators that is based solely on expectations. This component leads the business cycle because consumer expectations can indicate future consumer spending or tightening. The data for this component comes from the University of Michigan's Survey Research Center, and is released once a month.

Lagging indicators

Lagging indicators are indicators that usually change after the economy as a whole does. Typically the lag is a few quarters of a year. The unemployment rate is a lagging indicator: employment tends to increase two or three quarters after an upturn in the general economy. [2] In finance, Bollinger bands are one of various lagging indicators in frequent use. In a performance measuring system, profit earned by a business is a lagging indicator as it reflects a historical performance; similarly, improved customer satisfaction is the result of initiatives taken in the past. [3]

The Index of Lagging Indicators is published monthly by The Conference Board, a non-governmental organization, which determines the value of the index from seven components.

The Index tends to follow changes in the overall economy.

The components on the Conference Board's index are:

Federal Funds Rate in the USA lagging behind capacity utilization in manufacturing. FedfundsCAP.png
Federal Funds Rate in the USA lagging behind capacity utilization in manufacturing.

Coincident indicators

Coincident indicators change at approximately the same time as the whole economy, thereby providing information about the current state of the economy. There are many coincident economic indicators, such as Gross Domestic Product, industrial production, personal income and retail sales. A coincident index may be used to identify, after the fact, the dates of peaks and troughs in the business cycle. [4]

There are four economic statistics comprising the Index of Coincident Economic Indicators: [5]

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve produces state-level coincident indexes based on 4 state-level variables: [6]

By direction

There are also three terms that describe an economic indicator's direction relative to the direction of the general economy:

The wage share (arguably) as countercyclical, but also as a lagging indicator with respect to the employment rate as procyclical indicator in the USA Goodwin2 fredgraph.png
The wage share (arguably) as countercyclical, but also as a lagging indicator with respect to the employment rate as procyclical indicator in the USA
Procyclical indicators
move in the same direction as the general economy: they increase when the economy is doing well; decrease when it is doing badly. Gross domestic product (GDP) is a procyclic indicator.
Countercyclical indicators
move in the opposite direction to the general economy. The unemployment rate and the wage share are countercyclic: in the short run they rise when the economy is deteriorating.
Acyclical indicators
are those with little or no correlation to the business cycle: they may rise or fall when the general economy is doing well, and may rise or fall when it is not doing well. [7]

Local indicators

Local governments often need to project future tax revenues. The city of San Francisco, for example, uses the price of a one-bedroom apartment on Craigslist, weekend subway ridership numbers, parking garage usage, and monthly reports on passenger landings at the city's airport. [8]

See also

Related Research Articles

Macroeconomics branch of economics that studies aggregated indicators

Macroeconomics is a branch of economics dealing with the performance, structure, behavior, and decision-making of an economy as a whole. This includes regional, national, and global economies. Macroeconomists study topics such as GDP, unemployment rates, national income, price indices, output, consumption, unemployment, inflation, saving, investment, energy, international trade, and international finance.

In economics, a recession is a business cycle contraction when there is a general decline in economic activity. Recessions generally occur when there is a widespread drop in spending. This may be triggered by various events, such as a financial crisis, an external trade shock, an adverse supply shock, the bursting of an economic bubble, or a large-scale natural or anthropogenic disaster. In the United States, it is defined as "a significant decline in economic activity spread across the market, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales". In the United Kingdom, it is defined as a negative economic growth for two consecutive quarters.

Inflation increase in the general price level of goods and services in an economy over a period of time

In economics, inflation is a sustained increase in the general price level of goods and services in an economy over a period of time. When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services; consequently, inflation reflects a reduction in the purchasing power per unit of money – a loss of real value in the medium of exchange and unit of account within the economy. The opposite of inflation is deflation, a sustained decrease in the general price level of goods and services. The common measure of inflation is the inflation rate, the annualized percentage change in a general price index, usually the consumer price index, over time.

In the United States of America, the U.S. consumer confidence index (CCI) is an economic indicator published by The Conference Board to measure consumer confidence, which is defined as the degree of optimism on the state of the U.S. economy that consumers are expressing through their activities of savings and spending. Global consumer confidence is not measured. Country-by-country analysis indicates huge variance around the globe. In an interconnected global economy, tracking international consumer confidence is a lead indicator of economic trends.

Fiscal policy use of government revenue collection and spending to influence the economy

In economics and political science, fiscal policy is the use of government revenue collection and expenditure (spending) to influence a country's economy. The use of government revenues and expenditures to influence macroeconomic variables developed as a result of the Great Depression, when the previous laissez-faire approach to economic management became unpopular. Fiscal policy is based on the theories of the British economist John Maynard Keynes, whose Keynesian economics theorized that government changes in the levels of taxation and government spending influences aggregate demand and the level of economic activity. Fiscal and monetary policy are the key strategies used by a country's government and central bank to advance its economic objectives. The combination of these policies enables these authorities to target the inflation and to increase employment. Additionally, it is designed to try to keep GDP growth at 2%–3% and the unemployment rate near the natural unemployment rate of 4%–5%. This implies that fiscal policy is used to stabilize the economy over the course of the business cycle.

The business cycle, also known as the economic cycle or trade cycle, is the downward and upward movement of gross domestic product (GDP) around its long-term growth trend. The length of a business cycle is the period of time containing a single boom and contraction in sequence. These fluctuations typically involve shifts over time between periods of relatively rapid economic growth and periods of relative stagnation or decline.

Disinflation

Disinflation is a decrease in the rate of inflation – a slowdown in the rate of increase of the general price level of goods and services in a nation's gross domestic product over time. It is the opposite of reflation. Disinflation occurs when the increase in the “consumer price level” slows down from the previous period when the prices were rising.

Nonfarm payrolls

Nonfarm payroll employment is a compiled name for goods, construction and manufacturing companies in the US. It does not include farm workers, private household employees, or non-profit organization employees.

Consumer confidence is an economic indicator that measures the degree of optimism that consumers feel about the overall state of the economy and their personal financial situation. If the consumer has confidence in the immediate and near future economy and his/her personal finance, then the consumer will spend more than save.

Procyclical and countercyclical variables are variables that fluctuate in a way that is positively or negatively correlated with business cycle fluctuations in gross domestic product (GDP). The scope of the concept may differ between the context of macroeconomic theory and that of economic policy–making.

The misery index is an economic indicator, created by economist Arthur Okun. The index helps determine how the average citizen is doing economically and it is calculated by adding the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to the annual inflation rate. It is assumed that both a higher rate of unemployment and a worsening of inflation create economic and social costs for a country.

Capacity utilization or capacity utilisation is the extent to which an enterprise or a nation uses its installed productive capacity. It is the relationship between output that is produced with the installed equipment, and the potential output which could be produced with it, if capacity was fully used.

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index is an American economic leading indicator intended to forecast future economic activity. It is calculated by The Conference Board, a non-governmental organization, which determines the value of the index from the values of ten key variables. These variables have historically turned downward before a recession and upward before an expansion. The per cent change year over year of the Leading Economic Index is a lagging indicator of the market directions.

Stock market cycles are the long-term price patterns of stock markets and are often associated with general business cycles. They are key to technical analysis where the approach to investing is based on cycles or repeating price patterns.

Depression of 1920–1921

The Depression of 1920–1921 was a sharp deflationary recession in the United States, United Kingdom and other countries, beginning 14 months after the end of World War I. It lasted from January 1920 to July 1921. The extent of the deflation was not only large, but large relative to the accompanying decline in real product.

Consumer confidence is a key driver of economic growth and is widely considered a leading economic indicator of household spending on consumption. Consumers tend to increase consumption when they feel confident about the current and future economic situation of the country and their own financial conditions. In economies such as India and the US, where personal consumption accounts for more than 60% and 70% of GDP respectively, consumer confidence has a particularly significant impact on the economy. Measuring it can provide critical insight into the economy's growth prospects. Consumer sentiment indices are essential tools used by global investors and will be an immense aid to individual and institutional investors in India.

Real business-cycle theory is a class of new classical macroeconomics models in which business-cycle fluctuations to a large extent can be accounted for by real shocks. Unlike other leading theories of the business cycle, RBC theory sees business cycle fluctuations as the efficient response to exogenous changes in the real economic environment. That is, the level of national output necessarily maximizes expected utility, and governments should therefore concentrate on long-run structural policy changes and not intervene through discretionary fiscal or monetary policy designed to actively smooth out economic short-term fluctuations.

Monetary policy is the monitoring and control of money supply by a central bank, such as the Federal Reserve Board in the United States of America, and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in the Philippines. This is used by the government to be able to control inflation, and stabilize currency. Monetary Policy is considered to be one of the two ways that the government can influence the economy – the other one being Fiscal Policy. Monetary Policy is generally the process by which the central bank, or government controls the supply and availability of money, the cost of money, and the rate of interest.

Inflation rate in India was 5.5% as of May 2019, as per the Indian Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. This represents a modest reduction from the previous annual figure of 9.6% for June 2011. Inflation rates in India are usually quoted as changes in the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), for all commodities.

This glossary of economics is a list of definitions of terms and concepts used in economics, its sub-disciplines, and related fields.

References

  1. O'Sullivan, Arthur; Sheffrin, Steven M. (2003). Economics: Principles in Action . Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. p.  314.
  2. "Nonfarm payroll report: when it's released, what it shows and how to trade it". Currency.com. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  3. "Bollinger Bonds are valuable tools to help a trader enter, exit, place stop loss orders and even spot when a potential breakout might occur". Currency.com. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  4. Smith, Charles Emrys, "Economic Indicators", in Wankel, C. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Business in Today's World (2009). California, USA.
  5. Yamarone, Richard (2012). "Indexes of Leading, Lagging, and Coincident Indicators". The Trader's Guide to Key Economic Indicators. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. pp. 47–63. doi:10.1002/9781118532461.ch2. ISBN   9781118532461.
  6. "State Coincident Indexes". Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  7. About.com, A Beginner's Guide to Economic Indicators, retrieved November 2009. This was the source of "procyclic," "acyclic," etc., as well as confirmation of "leading," "lagging," etc., and the source of some of the examples.
  8. "A Fresh Approach To Measuring The Economy". 2010-04-11. Retrieved 2010-04-20.