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Recovery Indicators Mixed... Again

The recovery indicators moved decisively sideways showing a continuing weak recovery.

By Dr. Joe Webb
Published: May 3, 2012

The recovery indicators moved decisively sideways showing a continuing weak recovery. The chart is below (click to enlarge). The NASDAQ Composite index was down slightly since last month. It is above its value at the beginning of the recession by 15%, or by 5.26% once adjusted for inflation. The ISM non-manufacturing index fell back from 56.0 to 53.5, and has been negative in year-to-year comparisons for 11 of the last 12 months. The new orders index fell from 58.8 to 53.5. Continued service sector growth is indicated, but at a slower rate. The imports index for non-manufacturing rose slightly. The overall ISM manufacturing index retreated slightly since last month, but is still indicating continued growth in this sector. That growth level has been shrinking, as the index has been lower than the prior year value for 12 months. The manufacturing new orders index was very strong, up 6.8% compared to last month, and imports was flat. Proprietors income rose in Q1-2012, but remains -5.2% below the inflation-adjusted level at the start of the recession. Small business continues to lag the overall economy. Overall, the last month was a sideways move for the recovery indicators. Remember, the recession was officially over in June 2009, and growth has been very weak for the last year and a half. There are signs that the economy is slowing again. Though another recession is unlikely, slow growth rates always indicate higher recessionary risk. April unemployment is reported tomorrow (May 4) and we will post our analysis and our macroeconomic indicators early next week.

Dr. Joe Webb is one of the graphic arts industry's best-known consultants, forecasters, and commentators. He is the director of WhatTheyThink's Economics and Research Center.



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