What recession? U.S. economic growth accelerated in September
The Chicago Fed recently released data that shines a ray of hope on the U.S. economy.
The Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI)—a comprehensive measure of economic activity—surged to 0.02 in September, marking a notable improvement from the negative 0.22 in August.
That doesn’t look like much, but a reading above zero signals that economic activity is expanding at a slightly faster pace than the historical average.
The CFNAI draws upon data from 85 economic indicators across four areas: production and income, employment, personal consumption and housing, and sales, orders, and inventories.
Economic activity remains resilient
Remarkably, all four categories posted positive gains in September, suggesting that the economy was firing on all cylinders.
Production, which encompasses manufacturing, made a remarkable turnaround after a negative reading the previous month. Employment-related indicators shifted into positive territory, bolstering the index.
The sales, orders, and inventories category inched close to a neutral reading in September. Likewise, the personal consumption and housing category also demonstrated an improvement.
“The consumer has been remarkably resilient, as evidenced by the stronger-than-expected and broad-based nature of retail sales’ performance the past few months,” said Sam Bullard, senior economist for Wells Fargo’s corporate and investment banking group. “Households have looked through a litany of concerns—including elevated inflation and rising interest rates—and have kept spending at a strong clip.”
The economy’s resilience has surprised even the doomsayers, who’ve been beating the recession drum all year long.
A recession is no longer a consensus
Economists are increasingly confident that the U.S. will avoid a recession, with expectations that inflation will continue its downward trajectory.
However, Fed Chair Jerome Powell hasn't ruled out additional rate hikes if the economy maintains its rapid growth.
“Additional evidence of persistently above-trend growth, or that tightness in the labor market is no longer easing, could put further progress on inflation at risk and could warrant further tightening of monetary policy,” he said last week.
Another month of solid economic data is good for America but may come with some unpleasant side effects if the Fed is forced to act.