CB LEI: Currently In a Recession?

The latest Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for October was down 0.8% from the September final figure of 115.8.

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI)for theU.S. decreased by 0.8 percent in October 2022 to 114.9 (2016=100), following a decline of 0.5 percent in September. The LEI is now down 3.2 percent over the six-month period between April and October 2022, a reversal from its 0.5 percent growth over the previous six months.

“The US LEI fell for an eighth consecutive month, suggesting the economy is possibly in a recession,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, Senior Director, Economics, at The Conference Board. “The downturn in the LEI reflects consumers’ worsening outlook amid high inflation and rising interest rates, as well as declining prospects for housing construction and manufacturing. The Conference Board forecasts real GDP growth will be 1.8 percent year-over-year in 2022, and a recession is likely to start around yearend and last through mid-2023.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.