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Miscellaneous updates

No sign in these charts of anything like a double-dip recession or even a meaningful economic slowdown.

September industrial production data show that US manufacturing production expanded 3.9% in the past year, and rose at a 5.9% annualized pace in the third quarter of this year. This, plus other signs of growth, suggest that Q3/11 GDP is likely to come in above market expectations of 2.5%.

Commercial & Industrial Loans at U.S. banks (a good proxy for bank lending to small and medium-sized businesses) have increased by just over $100 billion since last November, and are up at a robust annualized rate of 10.6% in the past six months.

After surging by $400 billion or so from last June through late August, the M2 money supply appears to have settled back down to its normal routine of 6% annualized growth. The bulge in M2 corresponds closely to the rising concern that the European banking system is at risk of collapse should one of the PIIGS default, but those concerns have apparently not intensified further.

Despite the 10-15% drop in commodity prices since last April, and despite widespread concerns that global economic activity—and especially that of China—has slowed, these two measures of shipping costs for bulk commodities in the Pacific have jumped significantly since their February lows.

Over the past few months the dollar has risen about 4-5% against a basket of major currencies, thanks to a flight to safety sparked by Eurozone default concerns. But as this chart shows, it still remains at very weak levels from an historical perspective.

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