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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Are imports warning of a recession?

The latest import data is very weak.  Here is a long term picture of imports.

Since 1970, when the real imports year over year change went negative we were in or starting a recession.  Prior to 1970 there were three instances where a recession was not imminent.  For some reason they have not updated this series since July.  It is a quarterly series, but come on this is Dec.  Where is the Oct. data, LOL.

Here is a chart that is more current, but is calculated in a different way.  The data series is calculated on a monthly basis instead of quarterly.  Unfortunately, this data series does not go back as far as the other one.

This data is showing imports have gone negative year over year and the last two times that happened we were in or just starting a recession.  This chart ends on 10/1.  The drop below zero was not the fault of Sandy.  It will be interesting to see what Nov. and Dec. show.

The evidence that we are in recession continues to get stronger every month.  The employment and GDP data is about the only thing the non recession camp have going for them.  However, they are always the last to turn and are subject to huge revisions. This is traditionally the strongest quarter of the year, but it does not seem to be happening this time.  Will the first of quarter next year still be weaker like it usually is?  A lot of people are still in denial.  Six months into the last recession people were still making fun of others that said we were in one.  That was right before the market really started to crash.  This seems very similar to me.  I think those that loudly proclaim we are not in recession now will have egg on their face when all is said and done.  There are way too many pieces of data consistent with a recession to say we are absolutely not there.  How long before the market starts caring about the economy again?


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