Wednesday, July 04, 2012

"The Handoff – Manufacuturing to Housing"

by Bill McBride on 7/04/2012 04:33:00 PM

I was going to write about this, but economist Josh Lehner beat me to it.

From Lehner: The Handoff – Manufacuturing to Housing

As you may have heard, the latest reading on the ISM Manufacturing index declined in June to a level of 49.7. The index is designed such that values of over 50 indicate expansion while values below 50 indicate contraction. This marked the first time since July 2009 that the index registered in contraction territory ...

Now, does that mean the economy is doomed? Not neccessarily. Even after a slowdown in manufacturing, the industry can and likely will continue to grow in the coming years, just that the growth is and was not expected to remain consistently strong. Second and more importantly ... is the transition from manufacturing to housing as a major economic driver. ... Residential Investment (new home construction) is now growing nearly 10% year-over-year while the manufacturing cycle is slowing.

In the recovery so far, beyond personal consumer expenditures, exports and investment – largely the manufacturing cycle – have been significant contributors, while the housing downturn continued to languish. Now, housing growth has returned but the industry is not yet doing the heavy lifting. The much stronger growth in housing is not expected until 2013 and 2014 in our forecast ...
Lehner has a couple of graphs showing the "handoff".

As I noted yesterday in Manufacturing vs. Housing, housing is usually a better leading indicator for the US economy than manufacturing. Manufacturing is more coincident. So the ISM index suggests some weakness now - mostly abroad - whereas housing suggests an ongoing sluggish recovery.

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