Business Cycle Indicators as of Mid-April

Industrial production figures were released today, showing a rebound in March. In the context of key macro indicators followed by the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee:

Figure 1: Nonfarm payroll employment from March release (dark blue), Bloomberg consensus as of 4/1 for March nonfarm payroll employment (light blue +), industrial production (red), personal income excluding transfers in Ch.2012$ (green), manufacturing and trade sales in Ch.2012$ (black), consumption in Ch.2012$ (light blue), and monthly GDP in Ch.2012$ (pink), all log normalized to 2020M02=0. Source: BLS, Federal Reserve, BEA, via FRED, IHS Markit (nee Macroeconomic Advisers) (4/1/2021 release), NBER, and author’s calculations.

Industrial production was whipsawed by weather in February, so it makes sense to look at manufacturing production as well. Seasonally adjusted industrial production rose 1.4% vs. 2.8% for manufacturing production (18.7% vs. 39.1% annualized). Industrial production is 3.4% below levels at NBER peak (2020M02), while manufacturing is 1.7% below. Incidentally, neither has re-attained the local maxima in January 2021.

Atlanta Fed GDPNow (4/15) is for 8.3% in Q1; IHS Markit nowcast (4/15) is 6.0% (both figures SAAR).