posted on 16 February 2016
Written by Steven Hansen
The Empire State Manufacturing Survey improved but continues deeply in contraction.
As this index is very noisy, it is hard to understand what these massive moves up or down mean - however this regional manufacturing survey is normally one of the more pessimistic.
Econintersect reminds you that this is a survey (a quantification of opinion). Please see caveats at the end of this post. However, sometimes it is better not to look to deeply into the details of a noisy survey as just the overview is all you need to know.
From the report:
The above graphic shows that when the index is in negative territory that it is not a signal of a recession - of 8 times in negative territory (since the Great Recession) - no recession occurred. Conversely, a positive number is likely to be indicating economic expansion. Historically, when it does make a correct negative prediction it can be timely - this index was only two months late in going negative after what was eventually determined to be the start of the 2007 recession.
This survey has a lot extra bells and whistles which take attention away from the core questions: (1) are orders and (2) are unfilled orders (backlog) improving? Econintersect emphasizes these two survey points - and both improved but remain in contraction.
Respondents believe the level of unfilled orders (backlog) is has been negative since 2011. Unfilled order contraction can be a signal for a recession - and remains contraction this month.
Summary of all Federal Reserve Districts Manufacturing:
Richmond Fed (hyperlink to reports):
Kansas Fed (hyperlink to reports):
Dallas Fed (hyperlink to reports):
Philly Fed (hyperlink to reports):
z philly fed1.PNG
New York Fed (hyperlink to reports):
Federal Reserve Industrial Production - Actual Data (hyperlink to report):
Holding this and other survey's Econintersect follows accountable for their predictions, the following graph compares the hard data from Industrial Products manufacturing subindex (dark blue bar) and US Census manufacturing shipments (lighter blue bar) to the Dallas Fed survey (light blue bar).
Comparing Surveys to Hard Data:
In the above graphic, hard data is the long bars, and surveys are the short bars. The arrows on the left side are the key to growth or contraction.
Caveats on the use of Empire State Manufacturing Survey:
This is a survey, a quantification of opinion - not facts and data. Surveys lead hard data by weeks to months, and can provide early insight into changing conditions. Econintersect finds they do not necessarily end up being consistent compared to hard economic data that comes later, and can miss economic turning points.
According to Bloomberg:
This Empire State Survey is very noisy - and has shown recessionary conditions throughout the second half of 2011 - and no recession resulted. Overall, since the end of the 2007 recession - this index has indicated two false recession warnings.
No survey is accurate in projecting employment - and the Empire State Manufacturing Survey is no exception. Although there are some general correlation in trends, month-to-month movements have not correlated with the BLS Service Sector Employment data.
Over time, there is a general correlation with real manufacturing data - but month-to-month conflicts are frequent.
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