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Retired chief investment officer and former NYSE firm partner with 50 plus years experience in field as analyst / economist, portfolio manager / trader, and CIO who has superb track record with multi $billion equities and fixed income portfolios. Advanced degrees, CFA. Having done much professional writing as a young guy, I now have a cryptic style. 40 years down on and around The Street confirms: CAVEAT EMPTOR IN SPADES !!!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Economic Indicators

Weekly Leading
The weekly lead indicators have moved up strongly since early Mar.
The indicators are on the cusp of a top side breakout, but as of now,
we can only say that they signal continued economic stabilization.
The indicators have been range bound now since Nov. ' 08 and have
moved well outside a frightening crash downtrend line that kicked
off at the end of Jun. ' 08. Yr / Yr % momentum remains deeply
negative, but continues in an improving trend.

Monthly Leading
New order breadth indicators have moved up sharply from deep
recession levels of Dec. ' 08. The composite index has jumped from
62.6 to 94.2 over the first 4 months of the year (100 = expansion).
The indicators are tracing a "V" recovery pattern, but long experience
says that backward steps can come at anytime, as new order volumes
are volatile.

Economic Power Index
This indicator remains positive, which is supportive of a recovery in
consumer spending. Measured yr / yr, the change in the current $
wage rate has begun decelerating as expected, but the real wage rate
remains very strong in light of mild deflation. The yr / yr change of
employment continues to trend lower and is weak enough to flatten
out total payroll before taking into account two positives: lower
tax witholding rates and unemployment insurance. The consumer
sector continues to benefit from sizable growth in social security
payout. The EPI has been nicely positive when averaged over the
past six months, but retail sales have only recently stabilized as
consumers build cash liquidity and tamp down debt. So, the
spend situation, while improving, remains fragile.

Profits Indicator
The first indicator for April -- industrial & commercial activity --
shows further improvement but remains below profits turnaround

The global economy remains in recession territory, but monthly
data, especially for new orders, suggests a significant abatement of
weakness. The US is the leader in the improvement.

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