Thursday, December 18, 2008

More indicators to show just how bad the U.S. economy is heading

Conference Board's leading economic indicators fell for the second consecutive month. From The New York Times.

I'm not sure what to say about this New York Times story:

A private research group’s measure of the economy’s health fell again in November and its six-month rate of decline hit the worst level since 1991.

The Conference Board, based in New York, said Thursday that its index of leading economic indicators fell for the second consecutive month, dropping 0.4 percent in November. That was slightly better than the 0.5 percent decline economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected.

The index is intended to forecast economic activity in the next three to six months based on 10 economic components, including stock prices, building permits and initial claims for unemployment benefits.

Based on revised numbers, the index has decreased 2.8 percent in the six months through November, the worst drop since 1991, when the economy was in a recession.

Drops in building permits and share prices, and increases in unemployment claims, led the index lower.

The Labor Department reported on Thursday that new applications for jobless benefits fell to a seasonally adjusted 554,000 last week, from an upwardly revised figure of 575,000 the previous week. Still, the four-week moving average, which smoothes out fluctuations, increased slightly to 543,750 claims, the highest since December 1982. The labor force has grown by about half since then.

Without increases to the money supply from federal bailouts, the leading indicators’ reading would have been far worse. The recession that officially began in December 2007 continues to ravage businesses in almost every sector.

The indicators are showing just how deep this U.S. recession is heading, and it is going to take a lot of brainpower and unconventional thinking, from the Barack Obama administration, in order to get this economy back on some type of growth track.

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