The ISM Manufacturing Index declined slightly for March 2017, pulling back by 0.5 points after registering a multi-year high in February. The difference between the index and troubling auto sales, for example, is another reminder of what is truly a large disparity between economic statistics and sentiment.
The ISM version of a Purchasing Managers Index is considered more reliable because it asks more pointed questions, including if you are experiencing greater sales today than a year ago.
But PMI’s even in that format can be misleading because there is no further quantification. If sales drop 10% one year for 50% of respondents and then rebound 1% the next year for the same half proportion, the PMI will clearly look so much better in the latter year even if the overall economy might not truly be that much different; at least not meaningfully so.
As noted a few months ago, this disparity is