Here's The Weird Thing About Today's Ugly ISM Manufacturing Report

Today’s ISM manufacturing report was almost unbelievably disappointing. The headline index dropped to 51.3 in January from 56.5 in December. Economists were expecting 56.0.

Many of the companies surveyed by the ISM blamed poor weather.

But why were economists so far off with their estimates?

For one thing, many of these economists model their numbers off of the regional surveys.

This brings us to this colourful chart from Bloomberg LP chief economist Michael McDonough. It’s of the progression of the national and various regional manufacturing survey indexes.

McDonough notes that the ISM index — the national index — is the closest to breakeven. This is in contrast to the regional surveys, which are much farther away.

Sure, the methodologies and samples for these surveys may vary. Still, it’s weird to see the parts (the coloured lines) doing better than the whole (the black line).

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