One can get an idea of how bad this recession is compared to previous ones at the St. Louis Fed’s Recession Watch.
They haven’t They’ve now updated the pictures to account for today’s industrial production release (-1.8% vs. Bloomberg consensus -1.5%). , so I will convey the situation in two graphs. To sum up, industrial production is lower than at the corresponding point in any previous post-War recession. For manufacturing output, the same is true back to the 1973 recession (as far back as this series goes).
Figure 1: Log industrial production (Jan. 2009 vintage), normalized to 0 at peak. Current recession (blue), 1981 recession (black). Source: FRB via FRED II (accessed 2/18/09), and NBER.
Figure 2: Log manufacturing production (Jan. 2009 vintage), normalized to 0 at peak. Current recession (blue), 1981 recession (black). Source: FRB via FRED II (accessed 2/18/09), and NBER.
It is interesting to see how fast output has declined in the past six months; industrial production has declined 9.3% (in log terms) since 2008M07, and manufacturing production by 12.3%. The three month rate of decline (annualized, log terms) is 21.7% and 31.7% respectively. See Haver‘s coverage for more. The news from Empire State Index does not bode well for February. The Bloomberg consensus for the Philly Fed’s Index is -26.0, less than last month’s -24.3. We’ll see if the news is worse than anticipated at 10am on Thursday.
[Update - 9pm]
Spencer at AB scooped me.
[Update 8:10am Pacific 2/19]
From Bloomberg calender, wherein actual Philadelphia Fed index came in at -41.3, vs. consensus -26.0 (and was far outside the range of estimates):
First the Empire State report and now the Philadelphia Fed’s data show intensifying contraction in February, results that point to a step lower for the nation’s manufacturing sector. The Philadelphia Fed’s general business conditions index fell another 17 points to -41.3. Shipments, orders and unfilled orders also showed deterioration. Price readings, for both inputs and outputs, show increasing month-to-month contraction. But weakness, unfortunately was centered in employment which fell nearly 7 points to -45.3. The reading underscores the troubling rise in unemployment claims posted earlier this morning.