Understanding the CFNAI Components
The Chicago Fed's National Activity Index, which we reported on this morning, is based on 85 economic indicators drawn from four broad categories of data:
- Production and Income
- Employment, Unemployment, and Hours
- Personal Consumption and Housing
- Sales, Orders, and Inventories
The complete list is available here in PDF format.
In this morning's Chicago Fed update, we learned that "Led by improvements in production-related indicators, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) moved up to +0.17 in September from –0.37 in August. All four broad categories of indicators that make up the index increased from August, and three of the four categories made positive contributions to the index in September. The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, was unchanged at –0.16 in September."
A chart overlay of the complete multi-decade span of all four categories, even if we use the three-month moving averages, is quite challenging for visual clarity:
So here is a close-up view since 2000:
But a snapshot of the 21st century contains only two recessions, so it's unclear how the individual components have behaved during the seven recessions since the 1967 starting point for this data series.