The December Credit Managers’ Index (CMI) matched the mood of the economy as a whole — essentially flat, but showing some mild progress. The most important aspect of the report is that the index remained above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction, and even showed a slight gain as it moved from 52.3 to 52.9.
The indicators that showed the least movement included sales and new credit applications.
The retail numbers thus far showed a gain of around 4.5 percent over last year, but these are still preliminary. What did show up as more positive was an increase in dollar collections and an expansion of credit extended.
Other elements showing promise include the modest improvement in unfavorable factors—disputes, rejection of credit applications and the like are still showing declines. But one unfavorable factor—filings for bankruptcies—has deteriorated significantly.
The overall conclusion from this month’s data is that the economy remains weak, but headed in the right direction.