October 2, 2014
Knowing when the U.S. Economy is heading for recession is paramount for successful investment decisions. We have designed the weekly Business Cycle Index (BCI) so it would have provided early reliably warnings for the past seven recessions. This week, the BCI rose to 181.5. No recession is signaled by both the derived indicators BCIg=19.6 and BCIp=100.
Figure 1 plots BCIp, BCI, BCIg and the S&P500 together with the thresholds (red lines) that need to be crossed to be able to call a recession.
The BCI uses the below listed economic data, and combining the components for the index in “real time”, i.e. the data is only incorporated into the index at its publication date :
- 10-year treasury yield (daily)
- 3-month treasury bill yield (daily)
- S&P500 (daily)
- Continues Claims Seasonally Adjusted (weekly)
- All Employees: Total Private Industries (monthly)
- New houses for sale (monthly)
- New houses sold (monthly)
The 6-month smoothed annualized growth rate of series is a well-established method to extract an indicator from it. We use this method to obtain BCIg which generates an 11 week leading recession signal. Further, the index BCI retreats from its cyclic peak prior to a recession in a well-defined manner allowing the extraction of the alternate indicator BCIp, and its variant BCIw, from which a 20 week leading recession signal is generated. More details can be found here (BCI and BCIg), here (BCIp) and here (BCIw).
Figure 2 plots the history of BCI, BCIg, and the LOG(S&P500) since July 1967, and Figure 3 plots the history of BCIp, i.e 44 years of history which include seven recessions, each which the BCIg and BCIp managed to indicate timely, the weeks lead to recessions are indicated on the plots.