Wednesday, November 22, 2006

ECRI Weekly Leading Index indicator up slightly and continues to point to a stable economy ahead

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) from the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose slightly (+0.01% vs. +0.21% last week) and the six-month smoothed growth rate rose moderately (from +1.1% to +1.6%) but remains relatively near the flat line, suggesting an economy that has leveled out. This is the third positive reading for the smoothed growth rate in 17 weeks (June 21, 2006). We haven't finished the soft landing yet, but we are in great shape, despite the weakness in the housing sector.

The WLI is now 15 weeks past its summer low and the six-month smoothed growth rate is now 13 weeks past its summer low.

A WLI growth rate of zero (0.0) would indicate an economy that is running at a steady growth rate, neither accelerating nor decelerating. A WLI fluctuating in a range from +1.5% to -1.5% would seem to be a relatively stable "Goldilocks" economy.

Although the WLI smoothed growth rate remains relatively weak and will likely remain so for the next few months, it isn't showing any signs of the kind of persistent and growing weakness (values more negative than -1.5% over a period of time) that would be seen in an economy that was slowing on its way into recession, but does look a lot like an economy moderating on its way to a relatively stable growth rate.

If I were looking at this one indicator alone, I'd say that the Fed is succeeding at its goal of moderating the economy to a sustainable growth rate. Goldilocks might not be completely happy with the current state of the economy, but she should be. Ditto for NYU Professor Nouriel Roubini. Sorry Nouriel, but Professor Ben Bernanke has it right this time. Anyone expecting a recession or very weak economy next year will be disappointed.

-- Jack Krupansky


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