An interesting and timely graph that may signal a coming recession

Mitchell’s laws: The more budgets are cut and taxes inceased, the weaker an economy becomes. To survive long term, a monetarily non-sovereign government must have a positive balance of payments. Austerity = poverty and leads to civil disorder. Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.

The following graph is no surprise:

Monetary Sovereignty

When Gross Domestic Product heads down, we have a recession — but not always.
And when the National Activity Index* heads down, we have a recession — but not always — except when it dips below -0.5%.

So how about combining the two indexes and see if we can get an “always” situation, that also may be appropriate to the current situation:

Monetary Sovereignty

If we make the indicated calculation, we find that after the graph line drops significantly below 0.0, we always seem to have a recession. Will this continue? Are we headed for a recession before there will be a recovery? I don’t know, but the data are interesting, and a bit ominous, in light of where we are now.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth. Monetary Sovereignty: Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia. Two key equations in economics:
Federal Deficits – Net Imports = Net Private Savings
Gross Domestic Product = Federal Spending + Private Investment and Consumption + Net exports


*The CFNAI is a weighted average of 85 existing monthly indicators of national economic activity. It is constructed to have an average value of zero and a standard deviation of one. Since economic activity tends toward trend growth rate over time, a positive index reading corresponds to growth above trend and a negative index reading corresponds to growth below trend.

The 85 economic indicators that are included in the CFNAI are drawn from four broad categories of data: production and income; employment, unemployment, and hours; personal consumption and housing; and sales, orders, and inventories. Each of these data series measures some aspect of overall macroeconomic activity. The derived index provides a single, summary measure of a factor common to these national economic data.

The CFNAI corresponds to the index of economic activity developed by James Stock of Harvard University and Mark Watson of Princeton University in an article, “Forecasting Inflation,”(external-pdf) published in the Journal of Monetary Economics in 1999. The idea behind their approach is that there is some factor common to all of the various inflation indicators, and it is this common factor, or index, that is useful for predicting inflation. Research has found that the CFNAI provides a useful gauge on current and future economic activity and inflation in the United States.

9 thoughts on “An interesting and timely graph that may signal a coming recession

  1. Brian,

    The author admits he doesn’t understand MMT (calls it “gibberish”), and his pre-occupation with Treasury pricing proves it. If he understood MMT, he would know that MMT and Monetary Sovereignty say Treasuries are unnecessary.

    They merely are evidence of federal “borrowing” (misleading word), and a Monetarily Sovereign nation never needs to borrow, and in fact, does not receive any money when it does borrow.

    Treasuries became obsolete on 8/15/71, when the U.S. became Monetarily Sovereign.

    As for Quantitative Easing, it’s mostly useless, except as a way to affect long term interest rates.

    Rodger Malcolm Mitchell


      1. Unfortunately, the criticisms of MMT and Monetary Sovereignty usually come from people who don’t understand it. Both begin as a list of absolute facts about our economy. It’s fine to criticize the conclusions, but to criticize the facts is ludicrous.

        Example: I once asked the editor of a major U.S. newspaper, whether he understood that the federal government creates dollars by paying bills. He told me I was wrong. That’s where economics stands, today.

        (I now plan to write a criticism of quantum chromodynamics. I know nothing about it, so I feel qualified.)


  2. I think the current definition of “recession” enables policymakers to engage in complacency. A recession should be defined as any time the national unemployment rate exceeds three percent.

    A depression should be defined as any time the national unemployment rate exceeds eight percent. This would mean we’ve been in a depression for the past three years, which sounds right.


  3. Right, Tyler,

    Or they could rename recessions and depressions: “Good potential” and “maximum potential.” Then, when we enter one, we’ve entered a period of good or maximum potential. Tell that to the media.


    1. Funny you should say that because I have an interview soon with Bloomberg, to be an assistant to the president of Bloomberg.

      I definitely think it’s silly that we claim to not be in a recession when 12 million Americans are jobless.


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