Weekend Doom and Gloom Challenge

Here is a challenge for this weekend. What economic indicators are still (or again) trending unequivocally down, or if it's bad news, unequivocally increasing?

I went through CR's July summary, and added a few others and came up with the following list:

Total payrolls
wage growth
consumer confidence
trucking in June
July architects' billings
residential spending
nonresidential spending (plummeting)
restaurant sales
rental vacancies (going up)
foreclosures (going up)
exhaustion of unemployment benefits (going up)
house prices (probably)

So, what can you add to this list?

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well ray of sunshine

how about which indicators can you say are on fire? Which ones imply we aren't bouncing along the bottom,or maintaining... bearing in mind the start of the recession data?

Where's that EI which would imply a true growth recovery back to before 2007?


I do agree that the "cliff diving" definitely appears stopped and in case you missed it, pointed to a couple of very positive signs, that being industrial production and home sales.

Railroad Traffic - still down


This down even from 2008 which was considered weak.

RebelCapitalist.com - Financial Information for the Rest of Us.

RR traffic is actually up recently

Here's the more detailed report.

The report you cite demonstrates the problem with raw YoY numbers.


exhaustion of unemployment benefits (going up)

Looking at the official report, both initial claims and continuing unemployment claims went up last week. At least on the seasonally adjusted numbers did. The unadjusted numbers were slightly down.

I just checked the exhaustion rate, and it is now over 50%, a rate never before reached since records were kept. The number of people collecting EUC continues to climb, and now tens of thousands are at risk of exhausting even the extended benefits.

BTW, I think this Instapopulist article is on the shaky edge of being a troll.

Re: Unemployment

Jobless claims have turned up the last couple of weeks, forgot to add that.

Unemployment rate the last 3 months is 9.4%, 9.5%, 9.4%, so that has stopped getting worse over that time period.

Apologize for the slightly snarky title, but I figured it would get people's attention. Really, I'm just trying to see what I may have missed.

If you think of something else, add it to the list.

on the unemployment

I wouldn't be so confident of that one data point from the last monthly figures. Firstly, just by absolutes, these numbers are just way too high. Then, the numbers also have projected people falling off of the rolls, not being counting and then we have some recently weeklies which implies the next new claims might be an increase. It's about 240k by Sept 1, 1.5M by end of 2009. So while to me it might appear "cliff diving has stopped" by absolute scales....the numbers of initial claims are just way to high to claim the "R" word unless one is looking at a L or a longer tailed U, but I think V is out of the question. There are also some very scary numbers out there on the original financial crisis, housing market, CRE which may lend credibility to a W.

So, in underemployment I think there is a miss on the details, the numbers falling off of the rolls and potentially assigning too much value to one monthly report.

So in other words, the slope has been so bad when one sees the slope decrease, that implies to some, recovery, but those initial claims, by their recent change or slope would be an "R" in past recessions.

Baltic Dry Index & LA Shipping

The BDI has fallen out of bed again and the volume of shipping on the LA docks is WAY down. Not good for Im/Exp balances.


Baltic Dry Index - good, thanks.

LA Ports - imports are way down, but is that actually bad?
As to exports, I can't figure out if they are down or not, using CR's graph. Can you shed any light on that? The last "official" data is Q2, so lagging.

GDP, Q2, 2009

I've got another one, digging around in Q2 GDP we had a huge reason it was less of a drop, that being imports dropped more than exports. We have China being touted as going to "recovery" which means selling us a hell of a lot of crap, which means that difference could increase (negative). Then investment is still way, way down. Also while industrial production looks truly in a trend of an upswing, the capacity numbers are at record lows....

That would make for an interesting post by itself, analyzing the components of GDP, specifically the trade deficit w.r.t. past recessions and see what that shows us.

As far as snark, I think EP's FAQ of when in doubt use a calculator is serving us all very well. But we can see the war right now on analyzing the Stimulus to try to determine if it has had any effect....so economic geeks clearly can have blog wars in spite of doing it with "back of the napkin". I hope we stay out of that and stick to the #s, graphs, data points.


You've never used any snarky titles about "green shoots," have you?

I was toying with the idea of a "21st Century transportation index" using the Baltic Dry Index, Oil tanker data, trucking association index and AAR railroad car index -- the idea being to track stuff from country of manufacture to retailer -- but I couldn't figure out how to make the data series comport with one another. Just tossing the idea out there.

volume, time?

time window, volume, to correlate? absolute tonnage? % total volume shipped during time period Y (upon arrival)?


This instapopulist is really a request for information. I figured there were a bunch of smart people who would find data series I missed.

I think there are really smart people

going through the existing data and pointing out a lot of anomalies already. It's all over the site.

but the so ignored trade/shipping data would be new...

I did pull apart GDP components but have not done a historical comparison of import/export components or say investment component to past recession tracking, esp. w.r.t. unemployment.

A compilation of negative graphs

(some more accurately negative than others), here.

oil, commodities

is it just me or what? I don't see how the drop in oil, energy commodities is a problem or implies a "deflationary spiral" and that finished goods is the indicator, esp. wages should be most weighted....of a deflationary spiral. But raw commodities of production, per say, to me are in a special category, esp. because they are weighted imports.

His post basically what I was saying in the 3D's post with all of the talk on inflation with the velocity of money just kind of "sitting around" I sure as hell didn't quite get why the dollar would magically seriously tank (beyond no longer safe haven) as was being predicted (Pimco, Buffet).

Lots of indicators contraction of credit and that Helicopter Ben appears to have done the right thing in this case, for the current conditions. (this is separate from giving $2 trillion to banks/institutions unknown and guaranteeing $300B from Citigroup alone and the rest of the financial oligarchy favoritism.)

But on the 1930's cusp time tracking, on this I am truly unsure on those points....because we do not have the same policy responses as they did back then. On the other hand, we have a butt load of new problems, just as the never ending global labor arbitrage agenda, the trade deficit, the erosion of the stable career to turning the entire country into a nation of disposable workers....

You're right about oil and commodities

(hence my qualifier).

But that blogger has some other more obscure series up that I wasn't aware of before. So I wanted to bookmark the page and this was a good way to do it.

Maybe next weekend I'll issue a pollyanna challenge. ;)

population growth

oh boy is that one most ignored factor these days. it's turned into political hot potato so seemingly one is not supposed to talk about it, regardless of how it defines a major region upon which the data is being calculated upon. I just scanned his graphs but noticed he is mentioning it.


Talking about when or if re: recovery is great academic exercise. But for me it is a matter of what type of recovery will we have.

Question: how many "jobless recoveries" can we sustain before we cement a permanent two-tiered economy?

I don't mean to put a damper on the lively debate here. I am just frustrated.

Continue please.

RebelCapitalist.com - Financial Information for the Rest of Us.

Fedex & railroad trans.

Railroad pasenger load is down by 17% (of course, August is traditionally vacation month, but that is when traditionally railroad occupancy goes up and up).

Also, Fedex is still dropping in shipments. (Could it be because it's sooooo anti-union???)

Starbucks' store outlets has been steadily going down - but that may be consumers who have just discovered good taste in java.