Monday, March 11, 2013

Update: The Recession Probability Chart

by Bill McBride on 3/11/2013 12:10:00 PM

Last November, I mentioned a recession probability chart from the St Louis Fed that was making the rounds, and that some people were misusing the chart to argue a new recession was starting in the US.  Below is an update to the chart.

A few weeks later - also in November - the author, University of Oregon Professor Jeremy Piger, posted some FAQs and data for the chart online. Professor Piger writes:

2. How should I interpret these probabilities as a recession signal?

Historically, three consecutive months of smoothed probabilities above 80% has been a reliable signal of the start of a new recession, while three consecutive months of smoothed probabilities below 20% has been a reliable signal of the start of a new expansion. For an analysis of the performance of the model for identifying new turning points in real time, see:

Chauvet, M. and J. Piger, “A Comparison of the Real-Time Performance of Business Cycle Dating Methods,” Journal of Business and Economic Statistics, 2008.
St Louis Fed Recession Probability Click on graph for larger image.

Here is the current chart from FRED at the St Louis Fed.

Right now, by this method, the odds of the US currently being in a recession are very low (close to zero). Some day I'll be on recession watch again (not in the near future), and this is one of the tools I'll be using.

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