The Big Four - Industrial Production: Increase In November

Official recession calls are the responsibility of the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee, which is understandably vague about the specific indicators on which they base their decisions. This committee statement is about as close as they get to identifying their method.

There is, however, a general belief that there are four big indicators that the committee weighs heavily in their cycle identification process. They are:

The Latest Indicator Data

Today's report on Industrial Production for November shows a 0.39% increase month-over-month, which was slightly above the consensus of 0.3%. The year-over-year change is -5.50%, down from last month's YoY increase.

Here is the overview from the Federal Reserve:

Industrial production increased 0.4 percent in November. After having fallen 16.5 percent between February and April, the level of the index has risen to about 5 percent below its pre-pandemic (February) reading. In November, manufacturing output advanced 0.8 percent for its seventh consecutive monthly gain. An increase of 5.3 percent for motor vehicles and parts contributed significantly to the gain in factory production; excluding motor vehicles and parts, manufacturing output moved up 0.4 percent. The output of utilities declined 4.3 percent, as warmer-than-usual temperatures reduced the demand for heating. Mining production increased 2.3 percent after decreasing 0.7 percent in October.

At 104.0 percent of its 2012 average, total industrial production was 5.5 percent lower in November than it was a year earlier. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector increased 0.3 percentage point in November to 73.3 percent, a rate that is 6.5 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2019) average but 9.1 percentage points above its low in April. [view full report]

The chart below shows the year-over-year percent change in Industrial Production since the series inception in 1919, the current level is lower than at the onset of all 17 recessions over this time frame of nearly a century.

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