• 14 hours Can The British Pound Overcome Brexit?
  • 20 hours Is A Gold Breakout Near?
  • 2 days Federal Reserve Downgrades U.S. Growth And Cuts Rate Hikes
  • 2 days Disney Beats Out Comcast In $71.3B Mega-Merger
  • 2 days The Feds Continue To Prop Up Equities Markets
  • 2 days Bejing's Sway In South China Sea Is Fading
  • 3 days Saudis Eye Billions As Stocks Get Emerging Market Boost
  • 3 days Airbnb In Acquisition Mode Ahead Of IPO
  • 3 days Gold Hangs At $1,300 Ahead Of Fed Meeting
  • 3 days Champagne Sales Slow As European Economic Worries Grow Louder
  • 4 days Putin Signs “Digital Iron Curtain” Into Law
  • 4 days Russian Metals Magnate Sues U.S. Over Sanctions
  • 4 days Tesla Looks To Jump Into Indian Market
  • 4 days Global Banks Lay Groundwork To Re-Inflate Asset Prices
  • 5 days Homeowners Experiment With Risky New Investment Trend
  • 5 days U.S. Tech Stocks Look Increasingly Vulnerable
  • 5 days De Beers To Expand World’s Most Profitable Diamond Mine
  • 5 days Ford CEO Gets Raise After Massive Layoff Round
  • 6 days Germany’s Flirtation With Recession Could Cripple The Global Economy
  • 6 days Where To Look As Gold Miners Inch Higher
Lending: The Good, Bad, And Ugly

Lending: The Good, Bad, And Ugly

Aristotle said, “The most hated…

The Chatroom Cartel Running Global Bond Markets

The Chatroom Cartel Running Global Bond Markets

Eight major banks have been…

  1. Home
  2. Markets
  3. Other

Surprising Surprises

If posting on December 22nd was a bad idea, imagine how stupid it is to post on December 23rd?

But I noticed something unusual and thought to point it out. Yesterday, I observed that the data has generally been weakening, and while some commentators are optimistic on the outlook for 2016 I am not one of them. Actually, it appears that perhaps commentators as a whole are not only too optimistic now, but have been too optimistic all year.

The Citi Economic Surprise Index is an interesting data series that measures how data releases have generally compared to economists' prior expectations. When data is coming in weaker than expected, it declines; when data is coming in stronger than expected, it rises. This doesn't necessarily mean that it declines when the economy is weakening, just when the data is surprising on the downside. I've always had trouble figuring out just how to use this information, because of that. Is the indicator rising because conditions are getting better, or just because economists are morose? Is it falling because conditions are getting worse, or because economists are too optimistic? Hard to tell.

With that said, here is what the indicator has done over the last three years (source: Bloomberg).

Citi Economic Surprise Index

Nothing to see here, right? Well take a look at this! The table below shows the proportion of the time, by year (since the index was created in 2003), that the index was above zero.

2003 57%
2004 49%
2005 68%
2006 43%
2007 57%
2008 36%
2009 67%
2010 56%
2011 54%
2012 63%
2013 61%
2014 54%
2015 8%

Now that, as they would say on Mythbusters, is a result. I have no idea what it means, that economic data has been consistently undershooting expectations all year so that the index has been negative 92% of the time. The second-worst outcome was 2008, but that was clearly a situation in which the economy was getting worse lots faster than economists anticipated.

I am inclined to think that this represents the optimism that economists seem to have that the Fed's move to tighten policy reflects a response to actual underlying strength. I should add that I believe this is an unfounded, irrational, and borderline psychotic optimism given the historical prognosticative powers of the Federal Reserve...but if that is indeed what is happening then the optimism that these same economists have about the number of rate hikes we will see in 2016 is probably misplaced.

 


You can follow me @inflation_guy!

Enduring Investments is a registered investment adviser that specializes in solving inflation-related problems. Fill out the contact form at http://www.EnduringInvestments.com/contact and we will send you our latest Quarterly Inflation Outlook. And if you make sure to put your physical mailing address in the "comment" section of the contact form, we will also send you a copy of Michael Ashton's book "Maestro, My Ass!"

 

Back to homepage

Leave a comment

Leave a comment