Lakshman Achuthan, co-founder of the Economic Cycle Research Institute, was on “Bloomberg Surveillance” this morning repeating his claim that a US recession “began around the middle of last year”.
Retail sales are at recessionary levels right now, having dropped for a third consecutive month. I need to flag the inventories data that came out this morning in the US as the only thing between us and outright recession.
I would love to see ECRI explain why they have changed the date when they felt recession would begin and whether this means they were wrong in forecasting recession in 2011. yesterday, I said ” I don’t think Achuthan is changing his story in the least.” I can’t say that now. It certainly looks to me now like ECRI was wrong initially and that Achuthan has changed his timetable subsequently.
I have Bloomberg copy and a video of a recent performance by ECRI’s Lakshman Achuthan on Tom Keene’s show. A lot of people have been pouring scorn on business cycle forecaster Achuthan because of his company’s recession forecast. I suspect most of it is driven by bulls annoyed by his downbeat forecast or by the media’s instinct for gotcha with prognosticators.
The Institute for Supply Management released its widely-followed index of manufacturing activity today. The data show that the US manufacturing sector contracted in June for the first time since July 2009. Given economic weakness elsewhere in the global economy, we should see this as a troubling sign.
The ECRI released the following chart on the year-over-year growth in US real personal income. The takeaway here is that personal income growth is seriously flagging going into the fiscal cliff which promises to turn income growth decidedly to income contraction.
Lakshman Achuthan is sticking to his call that the US will enter recession in the second half of 2012. He spoke to CNBC’s Squawk Box crew about it this morning. Take a look.
The economic data in the US has been somewhat better of late but the ECRI’s Lakshman Achuthan argues that this is meaningless; you can’t repeal the business cycle. His view is that the indicators pointing to an end of cycle slowing into double dip are too well advanced for any policy response to have an appreciable impact.
The sharp rally off the October 4th intraday low of the S&P 500 is a result of the assumed prospect of a real plan to save the Euro and slightly improved U.S. economic numbers indicating that we may not be in a recession right now. In addition the market was probably oversold after its rapid plunge below the 1260-1370 trading zone. We think the market will soon be disappointed on both counts.
It was telling that, just as the ECRI and other notable research outfits decided to push the recession button on the US economy, the data flow became notably more positive. This could be a sign of the times, that the cycle is just too volatile for even capable analysts to call or it could simply be a blip in otherwise fundamental economic weakness that is here to stay for now. I have been working with and building economic models for a while and all I can say is that they are seldom 100% right and the margin of error is always there when analysts make calls. The key is your ability to make calls which are transparent and add value for decision makers when they are made.
Bottom line: I think we are in the technical recovery phase of a double dip recession that is a once in a generation period of balance sheet repair. To me, it’s a depression. Irrespective of what you call this thing we are living through, it is not good. Unemployment is sky high, wage growth is nowhere and we are still beset by crisis.
ECRI has predicted a recession in the US. In the videos below, Lakshman Achuthan talks with Yahoo Finance and the Wall Street Journal about ECRI’s new recession call.