New Index Shows U.S. Economy Improved Slightly in January
The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, in its inaugural release of the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI), reported that the index increased to −0.55 in January from a December level of –0.79. This monthly index, a weighted average of 85 indicators of national economic activity, is
constructed to have an average value of zero and a standard deviation of one. A zero value for the
index indicates that the national economy is expanding at its historical trend rate of growth;
negative values are associated with below-trend growth while positive values indicate above-trend
growth. Thus, the –0.55 January value for the CFNAI indicates that the national economy was
growing below trend that month, but not as far below trend as in December 2000 when the
monthly index was –0.79.