Today’s release of the Chicago Federal Reserve National Activity Index (CFNAI) indicated that national economic activity remained in contraction in October with the index improving slightly to -0.28 while the three month moving average dropped to -0.46.
The CFNAI is a weighted average of 85 indicators of national economic activity collected into four overall categories of “production and income”, “employment, unemployment and income”, “personal consumption and housing” and “sales, orders and inventories”.
The Chicago Fed regards a value of zero for the total index as indicating that the national economy is expanding at its historical trend rate while a negative value indicates below average growth.
A value at or below -0.70 for the three month moving average of the national activity index (CFNAI-MA3) indicates that the national economy has either just entered or continues in recession.
It’s important to note that at -0.46 the current three month average index value is indicating extremely weak growth nearing the recessionary level of -0.70.