The Chicago Federal Reserve put out the most sobering data Monday. The Fed’s weighted average of 85 indicators of national economic activity (which goes by the acronym CFNAI) considers production, income, employment, personal consumption, housing, sales, orders and inventories. The national activity index is weighted so that a normal economy rates a zero and positive values show booming growth. For October, the index stood at -0.56 — just shy of the -0.7 score that signifies the economy is headed into recession.
Manufacturing output declined, production fell, inventories dropped, sales tanked, and consumption diminished. All together, 54 indicators were down. Housing starts were up to their highest level since July 2008, but even this does not generate hope as an indicator of a robust recovery. Housing permits declined, suggesting that the construction industry is not likely to experience a boom anytime soon.
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