Over the past few weeks, we've been closely monitoring high frequency data, which provides the most up to date information about the economy. Most of this data come out weekly, instead of the less frequent, and lagging, monthly indicators. With large swings in the equity and bond markets, many people have been fearful of another financial panic like we experienced in 2008.
The table above shows the high frequency indicators we've been following, and none of them show the downturn that so many are fearful of. Initial claims have remained stable in the 400K to 420K range. Both chain store sales and weekly retail sales show that retail activity is still growing within normal bounds for a recovery. Box office receipt data from BoxOfficeMojo.com over the last week show that sales are up from the same weekend last year. Rail traffic is 0.8% higher when compared to a year ago and steel production is up a whopping 11.1% versus last year. And finally, we added a new indicator to the list, Hotel Occupancy. This indicator is up 6.6% from a year ago and has strengthened in recent weeks.
These data reflect activity up through the first and second week of September, well past the major market volatility that many feared could cause a panic. These high frequency indicators are the closest thing to real-time readings of economic activity available. None of them show a sharp downturn or a panicking consumer, and we don't expect they will in the coming weeks.