Nonfinancial Leverage NFCI Continues to Deteriorate w/e 08 March 2013

March 13th, 2013
in econ_news, syndication

The Nonfinancial leverage subindex of the National Financial Conditions Index increased slightly (less good) this week but remains well in economic expansion territory. Econintersect focuses on non-financial tools to monitor the economy.

This index remains on a "less good" trend line, and is believed to be a good forward indicator a recession is coming. A value above zero is a recession warning.

Follow up:

According to the Chicago Fed:

The NFCI ticked down to –0.76 in the week ending March 8, indicating slightly looser financial conditions. The risk and leverage subindexes were unchanged from the previous week, while the credit subindex edged lower.

Recently released data for the fourth quarter of 2012 led to a slight upward revision to the nonfinancial leverage subindex, which ticked up in the latest week.

The ANFCI also edged down to –0.23 from the previous week. This level of the ANFCI indicates that financial conditions are moderately more lax than would typically be suggested by current economic conditions.

The Chicago Fed has continuous backward revision to the data:


Date Value Last Week Value this Week
09/07/12 -1.083337 -0.983087
09/14/12 -1.073093 -0.972791
09/21/12 -1.062157 -0.961987
09/28/12 -1.050607 -0.950739
10/05/12 -1.038548 -0.939141
10/12/12 -1.026076 -0.927273
10/19/12 -1.013375 -0.915296
10/26/12 -1.000556 -0.903303
11/02/12 -0.98773 -0.891392
11/09/12 -0.974988 -0.879638
11/16/12 -0.962404 -0.868105
11/23/12 -0.950029 -0.856836
11/30/12 -0.937898 -0.845857
12/07/12 -0.926028 -0.83518
12/14/12 -0.914432 -0.824808
12/21/12 -0.903117 -0.814742
12/28/12 -0.892077 -0.804967
01/04/13 -0.881307 -0.795466
01/11/13 -0.870792 -0.786213
01/18/13 -0.860532 -0.777194
01/25/13 -0.8505 -0.76838
02/01/13 -0.840683 -0.759751
02/08/13 -0.83106 -0.751283
02/15/13 -0.821613 -0.742959
02/22/13 -0.812323 -0.73476
03/01/13 -0.803174 -0.726671

The dotted line on the graph below is the Nonfinancial Leverage NFCI, and is being used as a recession monitoring tool. When the Nonfinancial Leverage NFCI goes above 0, it is a recession warning. This index isolates a component of financial conditions uncorrelated with economic conditions to provide an update on financial conditions relative to current economic conditions.


According to the Chicago Fed:

The nonfinancial leverage subindex of the NFCI best exemplifies how leverage can serve as an early warning signal for financial stress and its potential impact on economic growth. The positive weight assigned to both the household and nonfinancial business leverage measures in this NFCI subindex make it characteristic of the feedback process between the financial and nonfinancial sectors of the economy often referred to as the “financial accelerator." Increasingly tighter financial conditions are associated with rising risk premiums and declining asset values. The net worth of households and nonfinancial firms is, thus, reduced at the same time that credit tightens. This leads to a period of deleveraging (i.e., debt reduction) across the financial and nonfinancial sectors of the economy and ultimately to lower economic activity.

Background On Index from the Chicago Fed:


The solid black line [on the above chart] is the nonfinancial leverage subindex of the Chicago Fed’s National Financial Conditions Index, and the solid blue line is the ratio of private credit to gross domestic product (GDP) detrended. For ease of comparison, both measures have been scaled to have a mean of zero and a standard deviation of one over the period 1973–2012.

The horizontal (time) axis is measured in weeks. We assign the quarterly private-credit-to-GDP ratio to the last week of each quarter to be able to plot it on the same figure panel as the weekly nonfinancial leverage subindex. The shaded regions in panel A correspond with historical periods of financial stress based on the analysis in Brave and Butters (2012). The shaded regions in panel B correspond with U.S. recessions as defined on a quarterly basis by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The dashed black line is the two-year-ahead prediction threshold for a financial crisis (panel A) and a recession (panel B) calculated for the nonfinancial leverage subindex, as explained in the text.

The Chicago Fed Letter Concludes:

Our nonfinancial leverage indicator signals both the onset and duration of financial crises and their accompanying recessions more reliably at longer lead times than the private-credit-to-GDP ratio.


source: Chicago Fed

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