Tuesday, January 19, 2010

St. Louis Fed Calls July 2009 Trough

For several months, I had been getting increasingly curious about the fact that the St. Louis Fed’s FRED data and economic research service was no longer indicating a vertical “recession bar” from the period starting around mid-year 2009. Finally, last week, curiousity got the best of me and I called my St. Louis Fed contact. This was his response (confirming what I’d already inferred):

Apparently the two staff economists that review the FRED charts believe July 2009 is the date they believe the NBER will announce as the end of the recession. From what I understand a similar “call” was made toward the end of the 1990-91 recession.

If I was to highlight one source they used it would be Jeremy Piger’s (University of Oregon), recession probabilities. He was a staff economist until about 4-5 years ago.

I don't agree with their assessment, but do think it noteworthy that one of our Federal Reserve banks has apparently “called” a July 2009 end to the recession. If I recall correctly, they did not add the recession bar until the NBER had officially made its call (in December 2008) that the recession had begun one year prior. So I'm not sure why they feel comfortbale making this call.

In my opinion, too many indicators are still either flatlining or declining (albeit more modestly than they had been).