Comments on economics, mystery fiction, drama, and art.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Federal Reserve's Index of Capacity Utilization

One more piece of bad news. I'm getting tired of this.

The Fed tracks capacity utilization in the private sector, and in September, the Index of Capacity Utilization reached its lowest level since Oceober 2003 (76.42 this year, 76.40 then). The Index is down over the past year by 6%. As year-over-year declines go this is nothing special, but it's not trivial either (the last time we had this large a year-over-year decline was in February 2002). This is 8th consecutive month of year-over-year declines (in the 2000-2002 period, we had 23 consecutive year-over-year declines; in the 1989-1992 period, 32 out of 33 months; in the deep 1980-1983 decline, we had 46 out of 50 months with a decline), so based on the recent past, another year-to-year-and-a-half of declining capacity utilization is not outside the realm of possibility.


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