The Consumer Metrics Institute was founded on a simple observation: many 'leading'
economic indicators are published, but few (if any) are sufficiently 'leading' to be meaningful to
investors. In fact, many 'leading' indicators use the prior month's equity market results as a key
component of their indexes. Investors may find their last month-end account statement more
To remedy this, the Consumer Metrics Institute has developed (and is continuing to develop)
techniques for monitoring 'up-stream' economic activities on a daily basis.
The "Great Recession" that began in 2008 has had many nuances, some of which can only be seen in data with higher resolution than that provided by the BEA or NBER. Our day-by-day profile of consumer demand helps us understand triggering events while also making it clear that many recent changes in consumer behavior have begun to linger -- much as the recession itself now appears to have done.
We have previously reported that consumer demand for discretionary durable goods is now at recessionary levels after starting to contract on a year-over-year basis on January 15, 2010. On the surface this would indicate a "double-dip" recession following the 2008 economic event. We may have inadvertently promoted the "double-dip" aspect of 2010's contraction by often graphing the two events superimposed upon each other in our "Contraction Watch" chart -- as though they were independent episodes:
(Click on chart for fuller resolution)
But to even a casual observer there is something unsettling in the above chart, especially if we've been told that the "Great Recession" was a once-in-a-lifetime event that required once-in-a-lifetime amounts of new national debt to fix. Clearly, the 2010 contraction already appears well on the way to equaling or exceeding the "Great Recession" in severity despite those "fixes."