Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Capacity Utilization and Industrial Production Cliff Diving

by Bill McBride on 2/18/2009 09:25:00 AM

Capacity Utilization Click on graph for larger image in new window.

The Federal Reserve reported that industrial production fell 1.8 percent in January, and output in January was 10.0% below January 2008. The capacity utilization rate for total industry fell to 72.0%, the lowest level since 1983.

This is a very sharp decline in industrial output. Industrial production is a key to the depth of the economic slowdown. Up until late last Summer, export growth had been strong, and the decline in industrial production had been mild. Now, with the global economy slowing sharply, industrial production and capacity utilization are falling off a cliff.

Also the significant decline in capacity utilization suggests less investment in non-residential structures for some time.