NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With the shutdown of the federal government crimping the release of crucial economic data such as monthly employment reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private equity giant The Carlyle Group (CG) has decided to make public its perception of the economy, gleaned from the firm's over 200 portfolio companies.
Carlyle Group released what it calls proprietary economic indicators that the firm calculates from its holdings around the world. It appears to be both a veiled protest against Washington's dysfunction and a significant marketing opportunity for the firm and the wider private equity industry.
The economy, in Carlyle's view, grew at an annualized rate of 1.7% in the third quarter as consumer prices rose 1.5% year-over-year. Carlyle's GDP estimate, however, is based on the total number of cargo containers "lifted" on or off rail cars at more than 50 facilities across the U.S. and Mexico. Those shipments and trade volumes have had an 80.2% correlation with U.S. real GDP over the past 93 months, according to the private equity firm.
Retail sales were up 0.25% in September, Carlyle said, using data it gleaned from a single appliance company. Residential housing starts grew at an annualized rate of 913,000, Carlyle said, citing lumber sales to homebuilders made by a U.S.-based Carlyle portfolio company. That data has a 94% correlation with housing starts over the past 94 months, Carlyle said.
Durable goods orders were $68.6 billion in September, Carlyle said, citing telecommunications orders received by one of the firm's portfolio companies.