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Credit Managers’ Index Suggests a Shakeout Occurring in the Economy

February 02, 2017, 07:00 AM

According to the January report of the Credit Managers’ Index (CMI) from the National Association of Credit Management (NACM), the combined score changed only slightly, to 54 from 54.1 the previous month. The combined score for the favorable factors was up from the month prior, but the news was not as good for the combined unfavorable numbers, which slipped back into the contraction zone.

“This month, the overall data was a bit misleading; it was utterly flat, suggesting that little had changed,” said NACM Economist Chris Kuehl, Ph.D. “In reality, a lot changed.”

Among the favorable categories, sales data improved to a level nearly as strong as that in November. The reading for new credit applications jumped as well, to the highest level seen in over a year, while the amount of credit extended hit numbers not seen in two years. This suggests that bigger customers and clients are asking for more substantial credit allocations. The data is consistent with improvement in the nation’s capacity utilization numbers.

The good news in the favorable categories shows that some business is rebounding, but the problems that plague the other business categories are not going away anytime soon. “It is safe to assert that about half the companies out there are starting to see some real improvement in their prospects, while others are in real trouble and can’t find a way to dig out of all this,” Kuehl said.

The bad news is found in the unfavorable factors, with most of its categories mired in contraction territory or failing to maintain some short-lived momentum. The large contrast between the favorable and unfavorable categories “suggests there is a shakeout of sorts taking place in the economy,” Kuehl said. “There was a slight decline in the reading for rejections of credit applications, which takes a little of the wind out of the sails of the positive new application numbers, as there is a suggestion that some of these new applicants are not all that creditworthy and are hoping that somebody isn’t paying enough attention.”

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