Macro-Markets Risk Index: 10.4% | 10.17.2013

The shutdown showdown is over, the government has re-opened, and the imminent threat of a Treasury default has been averted. Now the damage assessment can begin in earnest. Estimating the economic price tag for the fiscal war in Congress will take time, a process that will be hampered due to the missing updates on key economic indicators that became victims of the political stalemate in Washington. It’s unclear if these numbers, including September’s retail sales, will be published anytime soon, if at all. Meantime, let’s take a fresh look at what we do know via the latest macro profile based on market data. For the moment, a slight rebound appears to be underway. The Macro-Markets Risk Index (MMRI) closed yesterday, October 16, at 10.4%–a level that suggests that business cycle risk remains low. Yesterday’s close is MMRI’s highest reading since mid-September. If MMRI falls under 0%, that would be a sign that recession risk is elevated. By comparison, readings above 0% imply a bias for economic growth.

MMRI represents a subset of the Economic Trend & Momentum indices, a pair benchmarks that track the economy’s broad trend for signs of major turning points in the business cycle via a diversified set of indicators. Analyzing the market-price components separately offers a real-time approximation of macro conditions, according to the “wisdom of the crowd.” By contrast, conventional economic reports are published with a time lag. MMRI is intended for use as a supplement for developing perspective on the current month’s economic profile until a complete data set is published.
MMRI measures the daily median change of four indicators based on the following calculations:
• US stocks (S&P 500), 250-trading day % change, plotted daily
• Credit spread (BofA ML US High Yield Master II Option-Adjusted Spread), inverted 250-trading day % change, plotted daily
• Treasury yield curve (10-yr Treasury yield less 3-month T-bill yield), no transformation, plotted daily
• Oil prices (iPath S&P GSCI Crude Oil Total Return Index ETN (OIL)), inverted 250-trading day % change, plotted daily
Here’s how MMRI compares on a daily basis since August 2007:

Here’s a closer review of how MMRI stacks up so far this year: