November 05, 2004

Economic indicators that scare me

Kevin Drum points out a few signs that the economy is rebounding. Now for some signs that it might not be. From Heather Boushey at the Center for Economic and Policy Research:
This is tempered, however, by a decline in the diffusion index—the share of firms indicating that they intend to hire in the next few months. The three-month diffusion index is 58.1, indicating more firms are planning to hire than not. However, October’s index is sharply lower than it was at its peak of 74.5 last May. Between 1992 and 1999, the diffusion index was typically above the high sixties, so the fall over the past few months might be a possible sign of firms’ reluctance to continue hiring at a strong pace in the months to come.
I should also note that the bond market has been predicting an economic slowdown of sorts for some time, with ten-year yields falling sharply over the past six months. (The little rally staged yesterday made only a little dent in the overall trend.) So it's not clear if the recent good news represents the start of a long-term upwards trend or a peak. Let's hope it's not a peak. Then there's this whole bit about the declining dollar...
-- Brad Plumer 8:41 PM || ||