“1. Tell us how you look at cycles. Are there any indicators or measurements you rely on?
James Montier: Personally I’ve never really found it that tricky to know where we are in a cycle. There are a lot of indicators that gauge exactly that sort of thing from the ISM to the ECRI measures. The Philly Fed have a good (by which I mean timely) index called the ADS measure which tracks where we are in real time.”
I had never heard of this indicator so I tracked it down at the Philly Fed’s website to see what it was telling us. Apparently, business conditions have started to contract again after a sharp rebound in 2009 and leveling off in recent months. This one might be worth bookmarking. An explanation of the index methodology follows:
“The Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti business conditions index is designed to track real business conditions at high frequency. Its underlying economic indicators (weekly initial jobless claims; monthly payroll employment, industrial production, personal income less transfer payments, manufacturing and trade sales; and quarterly real GDP) blend high- and low-frequency information and stock and flow data. Both the ADS index and this web page are updated as data on the index’s underlying components are released.
The average value of the ADS index is zero. Progressively bigger positive values indicate progressively better-than-average conditions, whereas progressively more negative values indicate progressively worse-than-average conditions. The ADS index may be used to compare business conditions at different times. A value of -3.0, for example, would indicate business conditions significantly worse than at any time in either the 1990-91 or the 2001 recession, during which the ADS index never dropped below -2.0.”