Business Cycle Indicators, September 15th

With today’s industrial production release, here’s a picture of five indicators tracked by the NBER’s Business Cycle Dating Committee (BCDC):

Figure 1: Nonfarm payroll employment (dark blue), Bloomberg consensus for September (light blue square), industrial production (red), personal income excluding transfers in Ch.2012$ (green), manufacturing and trade sales in Ch.2012$ (black), and monthly GDP in Ch.2012$ (pink), all log normalized to 2019M02=0. Source: BLS, Federal Reserve, BEA, via FRED, Macroeconomic Advisers (9/1 release), NBER, Bloomberg, and author’s calculations.

The 0.4% (m/m not annualized) increase was below the 1.0% Bloomberg consensus (although previous month’s value was revised up). Manufacturing production was also lower than anticipated — 1.0% vs. 1.2% expected.


43 thoughts on “Business Cycle Indicators, September 15th

  1. The Rage

    I am predicting a 3-4% real GDP contraction right now for 2020. 28% growth in the 3rd quarter. Major slowdown in the 4th though.

  2. pgl

    “The 0.4% (m/m not annualized) increase was below the 1.0% Bloomberg consensus (although previous month’s value was revised up). Manufacturing production was also lower than anticipated — 1.0% vs. 1.2% expected.”

    Growth rates not that great and less than expected? OK Bruce Hall needs to find a metric that makes Trump look good. How does this compare to where we were relative to the beginning? Only 7% below where the year began. Best economy ever! MAGA!

    1. Bruce Hall

      Sure, why not? Obviously, pgl thinks under Biden there would have been an economic miracle.

      • What are they saying? “The industrial sector is recovering from the Viral Recession, but growth will be slower through the rest of 2020 and in 2021. There were big increases in output in the spring and early summer as factories reopened, but with demand throughout the U.S.and global economies still down substantially from early 2020, it will be more difficult to eke out near-term gains,” Gus Faucher, chief economist of The PNC Financial Group.


      Hard to do business when your state is not open for business. But we can be sure that, if Biden wins, IPI will jump dramatically in February and the states will open up like the Red Sea.

      1. 2slugbaits

        Bruce Hall You’re living in the Land of False Choices. The economy was going to take a severe hit regardless of who was president. I don’t blame Trump for the sharp decline in GDP or the spike in unemployment. My gripe is that we went through all of the pain just like other countries, but we didn’t get any of the benefits. It was a bad trade. Trump tried to have it both ways. He wanted to keep the economy open as much as possible while wanting the virus to miraculously disappear. Sometimes you have to make tough choices, and whatever else we know about Trump, everything in his life history tells us that he is incapable of making tough choices. It’s just not in his DNA. Trump should have followed the same path as other western European countries, which was to lock down hard for a few months and get the virus under control, and only then begin opening up the economy. That’s what Trump’s own experts advised. Instead Trump brought in many of the GOP governors in one-on-one meetings at the WH. And after each meeting those GOP governors caved into pressure from Trump and began opening up their economies and relaxing restrictions even though they did not meet the CDC’s own guidelines. And now we’ve got a mess. Other countries that we initially hit much harder than the US are now recovering and sending their kids back to school. The US is still stuck with continuing daily per capita deaths at an unacceptably high level on the order of 20 to 30 times higher than other developed countries.

        If Joe Biden had been president instead of Trump we still would have had an economic collapse and the economy would still be weak. The difference is that we’d have had a lot fewer deaths and kids would be going back to school.

        1. baffling

          i feel just like the casino gambler who is in a deep hole, and simply continues to make low probability decisions to get out of the hole. you know what the end game will be, but you keep thinking the next game will be the big winner to even things out. and you walk out the door naked.

      2. pgl

        “pgl thinks under Biden there would have been an economic miracle.”

        A clear lie. But then all of your stupid comments start with lies and end with lies.

      3. pgl

        The Viral Recession?! I love it as Trump was the worst virus in the history all mankind.

        Hey Bruce – Team Biden should make bumper stickers with your catch phrase. You know you might just make a buck on politics yet. Sure beats working for cheapo Kelly Anne Conway!

      4. Willie

        No, you are wrong. It’s too late for that. What Biden can do is follow science with respect to the pandemic. That would mean recovery sooner under Biden than recovery under Trump.

        Pretty straight forward.

  3. Alan Goldhammer

    There was report in the Washington Post yesterday noting that full occupancy of office space in the metro area is not expected until summer 2021. I suspect other metro areas are seeing the same thing. I don’t think that we have seen all the bankruptcies and closures that this will bring about. There is going to be some persistent unemployment that will be difficult to overcome. Will these people vote?

    1. Moses Herzog

      If you believe in the power of Christian prayer Mr. Goldhammer, I don’t think a few moments everyday in humble supplication to God asking for his mercy on America in November 2020 is a bad use of your time.

      1. Barkley Rosser

        Oh dear, Moses, you are really invoking “the power of Christian prayer” to Alan Goldhammer? I think that unlike you he is using his real name here, and Goldhammer is an overwhelmingly Jewish last name. I know that you adipted “Moses Herzog” from the Saul Bellow novel out of admiration for Jews, at least that is what yo said here once upon a time, but that you are really some sort of goy out of North Carolina in fact. Anyway, given your professed admiration for Jews, I am a bit surprised you would urge Christian prayer on someone highly likely to be Jewish.

        To Alan, I think it does not matter too much what voters do in DC as this is the most overwhelmingly pro-Dem and pro-Biden “state” in the nation, and even in the suburbs, although Virginia is a bit less certain, both Maryland and Virginia look pretty strong for Biden.

        Oh, and happy High Holy Days to you, which start this Friday with Rosh Hoshanah, unless, of course, you are actually one of those relatively few Goldhammers who are indeed not Jewish, in which case I apologize for that. Although, heck, everybody can have a good Jewish New Year if they want, including even the bumbling “Moses Herzog,” :-).

  4. 2slugbaits

    According the job openings at the end of August were only 11.2% below the Jan 2020 pre-pandemic level. Since then job openings have fallen to 21.4% below the pre-pandemic level, or about where we were around Memorial Day.

    1. Steven Kopits

      I am a little surprised that GDP is only 4% below normal, per the graph. I would have guessed 6-8%.

      1. pgl

        Ah Steve – you managed to make 3 whopping errors in one short statement. #1 – it is a forecast not actual. #2 – industrial production is not real GDP. #3 – you are assuming no growth in potential real GDP. I guess the Princeton Policy Review really does suck at macroeconomics!

      2. pgl

        I just checked with FRED. It seems that real GDP has declined by 9% over the past 2 quarters. Of course FRED reports that real GDP exceeded potential GDP by about 1% at the end of 2019. Potential GDP has grown by about 1% over the past two quarters so had real GDP flatlined this year, one could claim we would have been right at potential GDP right.

        But we are not – we are 9% below potential GDP. But some idiot at the Princeton Policy Review decided to misread a graph and declare we are only 4% below normal. And I bet that same idiot gets to go on Fox & Friends tomorrow morning with his expert analysis.

      3. Steven Kopits

        If I am reading the graph correctly, the GDP number is IHS’s estimate for the month ending July 31st. This is not then a forecast, but rather an estimate.

        Second, I have no clue why you are talking about industrial production. I am talking about GDP, the pink line.

        Third, while I think it possible that potential GDP grew from February to July, I have my doubts. It’s irrelevant for my point. I subjectively feel like GDP is more than 4% below its February peak. It feels more like 6-8%, as I stated.

        1. Menzie Chinn Post author

          Steven Kopits: IHS monthly GDP is for July – and they’re always estimates, to the extent there is no official monthly GDP series. July is 4% (log terms) less than 2020M02, but for quarterly data, the peak is 2019Q4, so calculations of relative declines may differ a lot.

          1. pgl

            “July is 4% (log terms) less than 2020M02, but for quarterly data, the peak is 2019Q4, so calculations of relative declines may differ a lot.”

            Huh I was basing my calculations on 2019Q4 as my base. I have no clue what Princeton Stevie was doing as he did not specify.

        2. pgl

          ‘the GDP number is IHS’s estimate for the month ending July 31st. This is not then a forecast, but rather an estimate.’

          Whatever. I used BEA’s numbers which are reported on a quarterly basis. But if you insist on monthly “estimates”, I guess you are saying they estimated a 5% increase in just one month. That does not sound credible to me but forgive me if I insist you provide actual numbers.

  5. Moses Herzog

    Stephen Colbert discussing Wisconsin, and the different options Wisconsin citizens have to vote. It has some very nominally humorous parts—but most of it is serious information meant to inform Wisconsinites on the choices available and making the best decision on HOW to vote, depending on personal circumstances of each individual voter.
    Republican or Democrat, Your vote means something, and can substantively change the outcome. Please use your rights that this country and God have blessed you with:

    America’s “great experiment” with democracy hasn’t ended (yet). You have the chance to brag to friends and your grandkids decades from now and say you helped set America “back on track”. People in Belarus, Hong Kong, and Liaoning China wish they were you right now.

  6. Moses Herzog

    @ Menzie
    Oh My God!!!! It’s 6:20am in the morning, and I am watching this film with Betty Gilpin called “The Hunt”. Menzie, I am about dying laughing, have you seen this?? Menzie I haven’t ever directly recommended a movie to you personally, just general comments on films I liked. Menzie, bro, You have GOT to watch this film, I’m dying dude!!!! Hwne the bearded did tells her about the internet stories he’s “forwarded to 5) friends” When they jump on the train car. This maybe the funniest thing I’ve seen since David Letterman went off the air.

    Menzie, if you think I’m full of it on everything else, you have got to take my advice on just this ONE thing and watch this film!!! “The Hunted” with Betty Gilpin.

    1. Moses Herzog

      *When the bearded dude tells her….. “forwarded to 50 friends” Oh man, can’t type this morning

  7. CoRev

    Democrats had 2 major issues to campaign on, 1) the Covid-19 pandemic, 2) the fall in the US economy. Day by day the pandemic issue is lessening. Month by month the economy is improving. Improving even though Dem leaders, Pelosi stopping the next relief bill, and the Dem governors slowing re-openings in their states. Dems are left with claims that we can do it better. Ye,t US voters just had 8 years of Dem policies for comparison.

    What’s left? What will the October surprise be? How effective when the big issues are diminishing and ongoing surprises are being shrugged off?

    Remember, both parties play the October surprise game and the more damaging appears to be on the Republican game plan.

    1. 2slugbaits

      CoRev Go check out and look at Trump’s approval ratings going back to 20 Jan 2017. He’s been underwater from day one. Up until the pandemic the economy was puttering along at about the same rate that it had been puttering along ever since the end of the Great Recession. Not great growth, but modest and steady growth. In 2019 the economy was showing signs of teetering on a recession; e.g., probit models of yield spreads.

      US voters just had 8 years of Dem policies for comparison.

      Actually, they had 2 years of Dem policies (2009 & 2010). After 2010 the GOP embarked on a deliberate policy of sabotaging the economy in order to make Obama a one term president. This isn’t up for dispute. McConnell himself was quite upfront about it and admitted that ousting Obama was more important than anything else. The Obama years gave us quieter cities, steady economic growth, access to health insurance, and respect among our key allies.

      1. baffling

        i can certainly say that i felt better about the state of the union 8 years ago, than i do today. i can say the same thing 4 years ago. in fact, life was better 2 years ago. life in the united states has collapsed over the past 2 years.

    2. pgl

      If you really think the pandemic is nearly over – you are dumber than a rock. And you think the economy is about to be great? My apologies to rocks everywhere. They are much more intelligent than CoRev!

    3. pgl

      “both parties play the October surprise game and the more damaging appears to be on the Republican game plan.”

      CoRev? You did not get the GOP’s latest memo? It seems they are now calling Biden a pedophile. I thought you would be the first person in on this smear.

    4. Barkley Rosser


      The most devastating October Surprises are those that are completely unexpected, that come out of the blue, even if somebody on one side or the other has been working overtime to get it out there. An example of the latter was James Comey reopening the vacuous Clinton email investigation 11 days before the election, which very pushed Trump over the top, with the media hyping it to the roof while ignoring massive Trump scandals. It is truly ironic that Trump would fire Comey, who put him in office, and has since railed against the media as “Enemies of the People,” although they helped with this a lot.

      It now appears that indeed Comey felt he needed to do that because pro-Trump people working with Rudy Giuliani in the New York FBI office were likely to blow the stuff out into public, and he tried to get ahead of it.

      As it is, we hear about a lot of things that the Trump people hope will be their”October Surprise,,” with a vaccine at the top of the list, but also various possible reports such as from Durham charging Biden-related people with crimes. But there has been so much publicity about these they would not constitute such a surprise. We already know that a majority of the nation will disbelieve any touted vaccine Trump might push forward before the election. And it increasingly looks like poor Durham simply does not have much, with so far only this nobody Clinesmith actually appearing to commit a crime. Try as hard as Sean Hannity wants them to, Durham seems to have little, although the recent resignation of his top assistant is a warning that the pressure is really on for this matter.

      I do not think the Biden people are trying to cook anything up themselves, although the various books that have been coming out have clearly been hekping them at least somewhat. But we may have seen the last of them for being before the election. And Trump seems to have put off certain dangerous things such as actually having to release his tax returns before the election. But, with him, who knows, something can always pop up.

      But, again, the most devastating of surprises are those that are genuine surprises, not possible things talked about endlessly in various circles. And the really devastating ones come in the last two weeks, not just in October, as Comey’s move in 2016 did. Nobody can predict this or which side such a surprise will hurt more.

  8. pgl

    Trump does a town hall outside the safe confines of Faux News and it was sort of a disaster:
    ‘My God, he is unfuckinghinged. Young woman asks Trump why he downplayed the pandemic. “I didn’t downplay it. I actually in many ways up-played it, in terms of action.” She interjects: “Didn’t you admit it yourself?”’

    ‘TRUMP: It is going away STEPHANOPOULOS: Without a vaccine? TRUMP: Sure. Over a period of time S: And many deaths TRUMP: It’s gonna be herd developed.’

    OK- my favorite parts. Here is a nice summary:

    Besides somehow blaming his Democratic rival Joe Biden for not enacting a national mask mandate, Trump spent the town hall claiming that a “herd mentality” would stop COVID-19 (he was presumably referring to the herd immunity method, which health experts have largely rejected as a solution to the pandemic), falsely denying that he wasn’t trying to kill preexisting conditions protections in the Affordable Care Act, and bragging about endorsements from the police when asked about systemic racism in the criminal justice system. In one particularly eye-popping moment, Trump insisted he “didn’t downplay” the pandemic despite directly admitting to doing exactly that in private conversations with reporter Bob Woodward back in March. “In many ways I up-played it in terms of action,” Trump told town hall moderator George Stephanopolous on Tuesday. Throughout it all, both Stephanopoulos and the town hall participants pushed back against Trump’s laundry list of falsehoods, leading to an uncomfortable evening that laid bare the President’s vulnerability in the face of tough questioning-and many viewers could see it. After the event, CNN reporter Daniel Dale told anchor Don Lemon that he had “hours of fact-checking to do” that night. “This was just a firehose of lying, again, from the President,” Dale said. Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker warned that the spectacle ought to be a major red flag for the GOP ahead of Trump’s first debate with Biden.

    Firehouse of lying. Sort of what we get from the Usual Suspects here!

    1. baffling

      as one of trumps own people stated, its not that he is dishonest and lying. he can no longer tell the difference between a lie and the truth anymore. this is his reality. to him, whatever gets him out of his predicament is his truth. there is no longer even a distinction between the two. trump has lost touch with reality. he is the second coming of silvio berlusconi-who went to jail after office, by the way.

  9. pgl

    The CDC director just testified that face masks are our best defense against COVID-19 even better than a vaccine. I can see the Usual Suspects here getting all huffy and puffy at this Deep State agent!

    1. The Rage

      Yes, but at some point, virus’s weaken and die. This is about the lowest grade a pandemic could get. Its simply not that deadly. If you have no vaccine and maybe, the medical industry as a whole should have just admitted they weren’t close. Its time to lift restrictions and move on unless bottlenecks start.

      1. baffling

        if you try to reopen now, you close the schools until spring. your choice rage. so far, it seems, in maga land, they would rather drink their beer and watch football on the weekends than stop the virus and reopen the entire economy. so schools will continue to stay closed. biden will control the virus, slowly reopen the schools in the spring, and by summer with the vaccine in effect, get the economy back on track. but all of this could have been accomplished at least 6 months earlier, if a grownup had been in charge over the past year.

      2. 2slugbaits

        The Rage at some point, virus’s weaken and die.

        Sorry, but that’s just a myth that’s been floating around the blogosphere.

        Its simply not that deadly.

        It’s deadly enough. And death isn’t the only adverse outcome. Observational studies from Germany suggest that almost 80% of people who recover from COVID-19 will suffer some kind of temporary or permanent heart damage.

  10. pgl

    Both Michael Caputo and his aid Paul Alexander are on extended leave from HHS. I guess they took the Trump lies a wee bit too far.

  11. Sebastian

    Egregiously (OT)

    Fed’s Lifeline to Main Street Flops With 99.8% of Cash Untapped

    “It was billed as a lifeline for America’s middle-market companies seeking cash to get through the pandemic. Yet more than two months since its launch, the Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program isn’t living up to expectations as few banks are willing to provide the loans.

    Some of the nation’s biggest lenders have demanded such crushing terms that discussions have stalled from the get-go, while other banks have decided not to participate at all. That’s meant the take-up for the $600 billion program is just 0.2%, threatening to undercut the economic recovery and efforts to protect jobs.


  12. pgl

    NewDealDemocrat over at Angrybear has become a good place for COVID19 updates:

    Total US cases: 6,519,573
    Average cases last 7 days: 34,744
    Total US deaths: 194,071
    Average deaths last 7 days: 733
    Source: COVID Tracking Project
    In contrast with the US, Canada averaged 18 cases per day per million people in the last 7 days (vs. 105 for the US), and 0.1 deaths (vs. 2.2 for the US). That is what we could have as well if there were competent Federal leadership.

    I would say let’s all go to Canada but I doubt they would let us cross the border.

  13. pgl

    The Lincoln Foundation and the Biden campaign will have lots of material from last night’s town hall:

    With less than two months until ballots are tallied, President Donald Trump defended his handling of race relations in the United States amid a pandemic that has disproportionately affected minority populations and unprecedented social unrest in American cities. Asked Tuesday by an uncommitted voter at ABC News’ town hall, “The President and the People,” why he would “downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities,” Trump denied ever understating the disease’s threat.

    Trump is an utter babbling clown. The Presidential debates should be fun!

  14. Dr. Dysmalist

    “… dem leaders, [Nancy] Pelosi stopping the next relief bill … ”

    I wouldn’t call Mitch McConnell’s paltry offering a relief bill. It’s more like a band-aid to be applied to a broken leg. Though the leg may properly heal eventually, appropriate care would make that much more likely. Kentucky Turtle’s ‘effort’ is far later than it should have been, and far too small for the size of the problem.

    1. noneconomist

      Then there was the reality that McC didn’t have enough Senate votes, (he needed 60) and even if he had, this bill would not have passed in the House. It was a show vote meant for rubes like CoRev to complain about Democrats’ intransigence.
      Basic Civics, CoRev. There has to be a point at which both sides reach an agreement.
      And here’s a thought. What happens if Trump is re-elected but Democrats take control of the Senate and retain the House?
      rCertainly not good for Trump.

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