Respite R.I.P.!

If you've been reading me this year, you know I have made a few highly contrarian calls that turned out to be correct. Most importantly, that after picking up early in the year, demand destruction during the recession that I already believed was happening, would cause inflation to fade strongly later in the year. As a corollary to that, when others were counting the days until $130 a barrel oil would hit $200, I called it a top, and started a Countdown to $100 Oil that turned out to be too tame! I also was among the first on the blogosphere to note that China's bubble was bursting and that the recession would go global, and that the markets feared deflation.

But there is one call I made over a year ago which now can be given a well-deserved burial: the notion that there would be a "respite" in the ongoing "slow motion bust" at some point before the end of 2008.

Another indicator of the end of deflationary recessions

It is clear that we are in an economic environment that we have not seen in over half a century. Statistics that have been generated only since World War 2 cover a period of time which was marked almost exclusively by continuous inflation. The last deflationary recession was in 1949-50.

As a result, many measures that accurately forecast changes in the economy during an inflationary period (for example, a positive sloping yield curve) may not apply now. Thus, I have been looking for statistical measures or comparisons that have data back to 1929, and appear to have given accurate readings even during deflationary periods. In general, it appears that the Kasriel indicator of positive yield curve + M1 money supply consistently growing in an absolute sense, and also faster than inflation did accurately coincide with periods of growth even during the Great Depression. Additionally, M2 money supply growing faster than commercial bank loans also coincided with the onset of recovery even prior to WW2. I have also looked at the role of an increase in the rate of real residential investment compared with GDP as a harbinger of recovery.

Today I will look at a fourth indicator.