Macro Markets Risk Index: U.S. Business Cycle Risk Eases

U.S. economic risk has eased in recent days, according to a markets-based estimate of macro conditions. The Macro-Markets Risk Index (MMRI) closed at +3.9% yesterday (Oct. 8) after slipping into mildly negative territory for brief periods since late-August. MMRI’s recent readings in the red mark the first run of negative values since early 2012. It’s important to note that while a markets-based view of the business cycle has turned cautious lately, there’s no confirming support in the hard economic data–at least not based on published numbers to date. Although some indicators are flashing warnings, the majority of key macro indicators are still trending positive for the U.S.

Meantime, a markets-based measure of the business cycle has pulled back from a clear-cut warning for the U.S. economic outlook. A decline below 0% in MMRI indicates that recession risk is elevated while readings above 0% imply that the economy will expand in the near-term future. The return of modestly positive readings for MMRI imply that the near-term threat of recession risk for the U.S. has receded, if only slightly.

Analyzing market-price data in the financial and commodities markets with a probit model also suggests that business-cycle risk is modestly less threatening at the moment vs. recent history.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers, starting with MMRI, which represents a subset of the Economic Trend & Momentum indices (ETI and EMI), a pair of benchmarks that track the economy’s broad trend for signs of major turning points in the business cycle via a diversified set of indicators. (For details about ETI and EMI, see my book on monitoring the business cycle.) Analyzing the market-price components separately offers a real-time approximation of macro conditions, according to the “wisdom of the crowd.” Why look to the financial and commodity markets for insight into the economic trend? Timely signals. Conventional economic reports are published with a time lag. MMRI is intended for use as a supplement for developing real-time perspective until a complete data set is published for updating the monthly economic profile.

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Author: Travis Esquivel

Travis Esquivel is an engineer, passionate soccer player and full-time dad. He enjoys writing about innovation and technology from time to time.

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