It is an understatement to say that 2020 has been an amazing year. It’s also an understatement to say that the efforts taken to avert an even worse economy have been unprecedented. Considering that any recovery can go unchecked and without pause is just not very smart thinking. According to the New York Federal Reserve, weekly data suggests that the economic recovery already may be slowing.
The New York Fed has its Weekly Economic Index for short-term barometers. Moving the data to this short of a period can be dangerous, as one delay here or there can greatly skew the data, but the index tracks daily and weekly indicators of real economic activity and it then aligns the data with the fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate.
That preliminary estimate is for −5.48% GDP this year. That is worse than the −4.41% reported a week earlier and still better than the −6.15% reading two weeks ago. The worst reading was −11.45%, from April 25, and the index generally has been recovering since that time.
Before thinking it’s all just bad news, the New York Fed did note that the decline in the index for the week of September 5 was a result of most data releases, including those that have recently provided positive signals, being delayed. One citation for the delay was the Labor Day holiday, and the second issue was a small decline in consumer confidence.
The New York Fed’s Weekly Economic Index daily and weekly indicators are as follows:
- Initial unemployment insurance claims
- Continuing unemployment insurance claims
- Federal taxes withheld
- Redbook same-store sales
- Rasmussen Consumer Index
- The American Staffing Association Staffing Index
- Raw steel production
- U.S. railroad traffic
- U.S. fuel sales to end users
- U.S. electricity output
Again, making certain weekly assumptions can be a very tricky effort. The timing of a holiday or an unusual event could greatly skew the data in such a short period. This index will be revised on September 10, as well as September 15, before its final revision on September 17.