Credit Managers Showed Recovery in September

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Most economists and investors might be tempted to overlook the national Credit Managers Index (CMI) released by the National Association of Credit Management each month. The reading never moves the market, but it is used for several other broader readings that are ultimately compiled and published at a later date. The September report of the CMI was shown to have recovered from its August dip, and this also brought it in line with a combined score seen in July.

The CMI had a combined score of 53.7 in September, compared with 52.0 in August. No estimates are compiled for this report.

One caveat here is that the National Association of Credit Managers said the month may be an anomaly. In August, the combined score for the index of favorable factors fell to levels not seen since December 2015. In September it rose to 59.5 from 56.4.

Dollar collections recovered and returned to July’s number of 59.5, up a sharp four points from August’s reading. Sales rebounded (53.7 to 57.9) and new credit applications also rebounded (56.7 to 58.6). The amount of credit extended improved further, rising to 61.9 from 59.7.

Some categories continued to drag down the whole index, and most of the categories held close to the numbers reflected in August. Additional notes were as follows:

  • The index of unfavorable factors improved slightly as it shifted from 49.1 to 49.9.
  • The most significant improvement was in dollar amount beyond terms (46.3 to 48.2).
  • Rejections of credit applications stayed roughly the same (51.6 to 51.3).

National Association of Credit Managers’ economist, Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., said:

This month may be an anomaly, but we certainly hope not. The best news is that the gains were seen primarily in the favorable categories … it’s actually pretty good news.

It is hoped that this data is a harbinger of things to come, but after the last few months of intense gyrations, there is certainly no guarantee. The business community as a whole has been cautious and uneasy and has not been eager to make commitments for the future. That has been affecting the CMI, but now there is some sense that decisions will be made in the not distant future.” Most of the progress can be attributed to the manufacturing sector, he added. “Service is lagging for now and at this point it may be a couple of months before there is a reversal.