Industrial Activity Down

Industrial production fell last month:

Weak areas included auto and industrial equipment.  We’ve known for a while that car sales were off a bit.  The decline in industrial equipment continues the fourth quarter downturn in capital spending, and suggests that the downturn has some legs.

However, keep in mind that manufacturing production is more volatile than the overall economy, and has a slower trend growth rate.  Thus, it’s quite possible for the total economy to be expanding while industrial production contracts.  However, the total economy won’t be expanding at a rapid pace when industrial production is contracting.

Business Strategy Implications:  Companies in the capital spending food chain should increase their nervousness.  There may be something more than a short-term quirk keeping capital spending down.