Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index Drops In September

An early indicator of US industrial production is the Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index, which tracks the transportation of goods across the country in real-time by measuring diesel fuel consumption at thousands of locations. The index dropped in September by 0.5% percent and represents the second consecutive monthly decline. More troubling is the prediction that 3rd quarter GDP will come in at between 0.7-1.7%. That is below most private forcasts From the press release:

The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index™ (PCI), a real-time measure of the flow of goods to U.S. factories, retailers, and consumers, fell .5 percent in September after falling 1.0 percent in August, which is the first time the index has experienced a consecutive monthly decline since January 2009. Furthermore, August and September 2010 together produced the worst combined two-month decline since the recessionary months of January and February 2009.

The decline indicates four consecutive months of limited to no increases in over the road movement of produce, raw materials, goods-in-process and finished goods since the PCI peaked in May 2010. Moreover, the PCI forecasts GDP growth in the third quarter of 2010 at an anemic 0.7 percent to 1.7 percent, below the PCI's previous 1.5 to 2.5 percent estimate reported last month (which at the time approximated the consensus economic view)

The build up of inventories, which has been the primary driver of this "recovery" seems to have finally run its course.

"The PCI tells us that inventory is stalled on the nation's thoroughfares. The good months of growth are now seemingly in our rear view mirror," said Ed Leamer, chief PCI economist and director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast. "Our economy's loss in traction is alarming and for the ‘Cassandras of the double-dip,' may foretell a coming decline in GDP and spike in unemployment. However, with residential investment, consumer durables, business spending, and other component indicators already at or near record lows relative to GDP, it remains unlikely that we will experience an outright decline into recession."

Below is chart which compares the Ceridian-UCLA Index to industrial production. You can see that the Ceridian index does a good job of tracking industrial production. Based on this we can say that industrial production probably fell in September.

Black Swan Insights


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