Business Cycle Indicators, Mid-June (and Retail Sales)

Industrial production was released yesterday, along with retail sales.

Figure 1: Nonfarm payroll employment from May release (dark blue), Bloomberg consensus as of 6/16 for June 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) (6/1/2021 release), NBER, and author’s calculations.


Industrial production continued to rise in May, above Bloomberg consensus (0.8% vs. 0.6%), and at a slightly faster pace than recorded in the previous month. Manufacturing production also provided a similar upside surprise.

Retail sales pulled back slightly. after surging in the previous months. Retail sales might provide some insights into the trajectory of two of the series included in Figure 1 — manufacturing and trade industry sales, and consumption — but the fit is not extremely tight.

Figure 2: Retail sales excluding food services in 1982-84$ (teal), manufacturing and trade sales in 2012$ (black), and consumption in 2012$ (red), all in logs, 2020M02=0. Retail sales ex-food deflated using CPI-all. Source: Census, BEA, BLS, St. Louis Fed via FRED, and author’s calculations.

The latest observation for real manufacturing and trade sales is March, for consumption is April. Extrapolating with reference to retail sales, continued growth seems likely for the two series, but hardly guaranteed.




9 thoughts on “Business Cycle Indicators, Mid-June (and Retail Sales)

  1. Moses Herzog

    Uh-oh…….. it seems the man commenter pgl once referred to as “our nation’s leader on Covid-19 policy response” has trouble encircling him again.

    Perhaps, if the ocean waters get too rocky for Andrew Cuomo, he can call up pgl’s favorite “basketball analyst”, Stephen A. Smith and ask him the best way to “keep the girls, especially the ‘significant other’ quiet”. Or Stephen A. Smith could help make certain women in the Governor’s office staff don’t “provoke” Andrew Cuomo. Personally, I don’t think that’s a good way to handle things, but I defer to pgl’s great sense of people’s knowledge base and inner character, so maybe pgl’s paragon of basketball knowledge can help Andrew Cuomo. You know, to “keep the stars of NYC aligned” and such. So New Yorkers don’t lose their toughness and sophistication—even if they’ve already lost their progressive ideals on #MeToo.

      1. Moses Herzog

        @ pgl
        Interesting that after a high-profile TV figure you said you watch regular says women “provoke” rape/violence that men commit against them, you feel it’s sleep inducing. I guess we’ve figured out how far your “feminism” stretches when having to admit you are following a sicko on TV for your “basketball knowledge”.

  2. Barkley Rosser


    So it looks like GDP has gotten almost back up to its previous peak. That is something good out of this, whatever else is going on.

  3. SecondLook

    Perhaps a worthless hypothetical, but assuming consistency and no other major disruptions: where could we have reasonably expected the economy to be if there hadn’t been a pandemic?
    One would think that logically that would be the abstract benchmark.

    1. Moses Herzog

      @ SecondLook
      I have a much more frightening prospect to ponder. Had there never been Covid-19 how much more would an authoritarian leader stolen our democratic rights over another 4 years?? Not to mention U.S. national security. We should write a personal thank you note to the bat in Yunnan who took a dump on another animal before it got to the Wuhan wet market.

      1. SecondLook

        Sorry, but those scales are unbalanced.
        Tens of millions dead or crippled versus an American version of Benny the Moose?
        (Spiacente,, that nickname for Mussolini I picked up ages from my father).
        I’m sure you really didn’t intend to give the former a lighter weight than the latter.

        Still, while counter-factual history is somewhat popular, it seems to me to be rarely brought up as a thought experiment in economics – I’m not speaking of alternate policies that might have been chosen but rather of secular, if you will, events that impact economics.
        I know, the traditional argument is that since you can’t change history, speculating on what might have been a silly exercise in fantasy. Yet, comparing surprise-free scenarios to what actually happened might have utility value in forward projections. Perhaps…

        1. Moses Herzog

          @ SecondLook
          Very respectfully, I don’t want to get into a quarrel on this, because I think both grounds are reasonable and “contendible” grounds (I don’t think that’s an actual word, but you get my meaning). But yeah, if you turn the world’s most powerful nation from a democracy into a dictatorship, do I think the cost could end up being more than 3.8 million lives?? Let’s say trump lives until he was 80 and he’s playing footsie with guys like Putin. And who takes over after donald trump dies?? Do you want to bet on that—that the death toll would be less than 3.8 million?? I would wager (call me “crazy”) a large proportion of the 600,000 American deaths aren’t even due to the virus itself —but mostly due to the poor policy reaction, from the same orange-colored creature we are discussing.

          Let’s say MAGA had had the correct policy response from the get-go, back in February 2020. Could we subtract 500,000 American deaths from the world total of 3.8 million deaths?? You’re probably going to tell me “It would not be as high as 500,000 American lives saved”. My answer to that is “We don’t really know that”.

  4. Moses Herzog

    One thing that’s always fascinated me about American culture, is how some people can get away with things others don’t. Remember Ellen Degeneres being caught in 3 totally separate episodes where her staff was being verbally and sexually abused, and even the THIRD batch of accusations didn’t even stick (she’s been broadcasting over a year past the last one). Watch how Billie Eilish will “skate by” on this one, and fans and celebrity friends will run to her rescue. You can bank your last nickel on it:

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