Indicator Type

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Leading Indicators

  • The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index — The S&P 500 is considered a leading indicator because changes in stock prices reflect investor's expectations for the future of the economy and interest rates.
  • Money Supply (M2) — The money supply measures demand deposits, traveler's checks, savings deposits, currency, money market accounts, and small-denomination time deposits. Here, M2 is adjusted for inflation by means of the deflator published by the federal government in the GDP report. Bank lending, a factor contributing to account deposits, usually declines when inflation increases faster than the money supply, which can make economic expansion more difficult. Thus, an increase in demand deposits will indicate expectations that inflation will rise, resulting in a decrease in bank lending and an increase in savings.
  • Interest rate spread (10-year Treasury vs. Federal Funds target) — The interest rate spread is often referred to as the yield curve and implies the expected direction of short-, medium- and long-term interest rates. Changes in the yield curve have been the most accurate predictors of downturns in the economic cycle. This is particularly true when the curve becomes inverted, that is, when the longer-term returns are expected to be less than the short rates.
  • Index of consumer expectations — This is the only component of the leading indicators that is based solely on expectations. This component leads the business cycle because consumer expectations can indicate future consumer spending or tightening. The data for this component comes from the University of Michigan's Survey Research Center, and is released once a month.


Lagging Indicators

Not as interesting.


Coincident Indicators

Indicators that change at the same time as economy.


Local Indicators

Localized indicators to area of interest.