CB LEI: Fall in April

The latest Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for April was down 0.3% from the March final figure of 119.2.

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI)for theU.S. decreased by 0.3 percent in April to 119.2 (2016 = 100), following a 0.1 percent increase in March. The LEI is now up 0.9 percent over the six-month period from October 2021 to April 2022.

“The US LEI declined in April largely due to weak consumer expectations and a drop in residential building permits,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, Senior Director of Economic Research at The Conference Board. “Overall, the US LEI was essentially flat in recent months which is in line with a moderate growth outlook in the near-term. A range of downside risks—including inflation, rising interest rates, supply chain disruptions, and pandemic-related shutdowns, particularly in China—continue to weigh on the outlook. Nevertheless, we project the US economy should resume expanding in Q2 following Q1’s contraction in real GDP. Despite downgrades to previous forecasts, The Conference Board still projects 2.3 percent year-over-year US GDP growth in 2022.” More

Here is a log-scale chart of the LEI series with documented recessions as identified by the NBER. The use of a log scale gives us a better sense of the relative sizes of peaks and troughs than a more conventional linear scale.

Conference Board's LEI

For a better understanding of the relationship between the LEI and recessions, the next chart shows the percentage-off the previous peak for the index and the number of months between the previous peak and official recessions.