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Composite Index of Coincident Indicators: Definition and How to Calculate

Last updated 06/05/2024 by

Daniel Dikio

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The Composite Index of Coincident Indicators (CICI) is a critical tool for economists and financial analysts to assess the current state of the economy. It comprises several key economic indicators that move in tandem with the overall economic activity, providing a snapshot of the current economic conditions.

What is composite index of coincident indicators (CICI)

The Composite Index of Coincident Indicators (CICI) is a statistical tool used to measure the current state of the economy. Unlike leading indicators, which predict future economic trends, and lagging indicators, which confirm trends after they have occurred, coincident indicators move simultaneously with the economic cycle. The CICI aggregates several of these indicators into a single composite index, providing a comprehensive view of economic performance.
Coincident indicators are essential for understanding economic conditions as they reflect real-time economic activity. The CICI combines these indicators into one measure, simplifying the analysis for policymakers, investors, and business leaders. This index helps in making informed decisions by providing a clear picture of the economy’s current state.

Components of CICI

The CICI is composed of several economic indicators that reflect various aspects of economic activity. These indicators typically include:
  • Employment levels: One of the most significant indicators, reflecting the number of jobs created or lost in the economy. High employment levels indicate economic growth, while low levels may signal economic decline.
  • Industrial production: Measures the output of factories, mines, and utilities. Industrial production is a direct indicator of economic activity and is closely monitored by economists.
  • Personal income (excluding transfer payments): Indicates the total income earned by individuals from wages, salaries, and other sources, excluding government transfer payments like social security. Higher personal income suggests a healthy economy with strong consumer spending potential.
  • Manufacturing andtrade sales: Reflects the total sales by manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers. This indicator provides insight into consumer demand and business activity.

Methodology of CICI calculation

The calculation of the Composite Index of Coincident Indicators involves several steps to ensure accuracy and relevance. Here is a detailed look at the methodology:

Selection of indicators

The first step is selecting the appropriate indicators that accurately reflect the current economic activity. The chosen indicators should be reliable, timely, and comprehensive.


To combine these diverse indicators into a single index, they need to be normalized. Normalization adjusts the indicators to a common scale, allowing for meaningful comparison and aggregation. This process often involves transforming the raw data into standardized units.


Not all indicators contribute equally to the composite index. Therefore, each indicator is assigned a weight based on its importance and reliability. For instance, employment levels might receive a higher weight than manufacturing sales due to their broader economic impact.


After normalization and weighting, the indicators are aggregated to form the composite index. This is typically done using a weighted average or another statistical method that combines the normalized values into a single figure.


To reduce volatility and highlight the underlying trend, the composite index may be smoothed using statistical techniques such as moving averages. Smoothing helps in eliminating short-term fluctuations, providing a clearer picture of the economic trend.

Baseline and indexing

Finally, the composite index is indexed to a baseline period, typically set to 100. This allows for easy comparison over time, with values above 100 indicating growth compared to the baseline period and values below 100 indicating contraction.

Interpretation and use of CICI

The Composite Index of Coincident Indicators is a powerful tool for interpreting the current state of the economy. Here’s how it can be used effectively:

Monitoring Economic Health

The primary use of the CICI is to monitor the overall health of the economy. By tracking the index over time, analysts can identify periods of economic growth, stability, or decline. A rising CICI indicates an expanding economy, while a falling CICI suggests contraction.

Policy Making

Policymakers use the CICI to make informed decisions regarding fiscal and monetary policy. For example, a declining CICI might prompt the central bank to implement expansionary policies, such as lowering interest rates, to stimulate economic activity.

Business Planning

Businesses rely on the CICI to make strategic decisions. During periods of economic growth, companies might increase investment and hiring. Conversely, during downturns, they might focus on cost-cutting and efficiency improvements.

Investment Strategy

Investors use the CICI to inform their investment strategies. A strong CICI might indicate a good time to invest in stocks, while a weak CICI could suggest a more cautious approach or a shift to safer assets like bonds.

Comparative Analysis

The CICI can also be used for comparative analysis, comparing the economic performance of different countries or regions. By examining the CICI of various economies, analysts can identify which are performing better or worse and why.

Limitations and criticisms of CICI

While the Composite Index of Coincident Indicators is a valuable tool, it has its limitations and has faced criticism. Here are some of the key issues:

Data Reliability

The accuracy of the CICI depends on the reliability of the underlying data. If the data used to calculate the indicators is inaccurate or outdated, the resulting index will be misleading.


Although the CICI aims to reflect current economic conditions, there can be delays in data reporting. This lag can reduce the index’s effectiveness in providing real-time insights.

Scope of Indicators

The CICI is limited by the scope of the indicators it includes. While it covers significant aspects of the economy, it may not capture all relevant economic activities, especially in a rapidly changing economy with emerging sectors.


By combining multiple indicators into a single index, the CICI might oversimplify complex economic conditions. Important nuances and sector-specific trends might be lost in the aggregation process.

Lack of Predictive Power

Unlike leading indicators, the CICI does not predict future economic trends. It only reflects current conditions, which might limit its usefulness for forward-looking decision-making.

Weighting Subjectivity

The weighting of different indicators in the CICI can be subjective. Different analysts might assign different weights, leading to variations in the index. This subjectivity can affect the consistency and comparability of the index.


What is the difference between leading, lagging, and coincident indicators?

  • Leading Indicators: Predict future economic activity. Examples include stock market returns, building permits, and new business startups.
  • Lagging Indicators: Confirm trends after they have occurred. Examples include unemployment rates, corporate profits, and interest rates.
  • Coincident Indicators: Move simultaneously with the economy, reflecting current economic conditions. Examples include employment levels, industrial production, and retail sales.

How frequently is the CICI updated?

The CICI is typically updated monthly, although the exact frequency can vary depending on the availability of the underlying data. Regular updates ensure the index reflects the most current economic conditions.

Can the CICI predict future economic trends?

No, the CICI does not predict future economic trends. It is designed to measure the current state of the economy. For predictive insights, analysts rely on leading indicators.

How is the CICI used by policymakers?

Policymakers use the CICI to assess the current economic situation and make informed decisions regarding fiscal and monetary policies. For instance, a declining CICI might prompt interventions to stimulate economic activity.

Are there any global equivalents to the CICI?

Yes, many countries have their own versions of the Composite Index of Coincident Indicators. These indices are tailored to reflect the specific economic conditions of each country, but they generally serve the same purpose of measuring current economic activity.

How can businesses benefit from tracking the CICI?

Businesses can use the CICI to make strategic decisions based on current economic conditions. During periods of economic growth, companies might expand operations and hire more staff. Conversely, during downturns, they might focus on cost management and efficiency.

Key takeaways

  • The Composite Index of Coincident Indicators (CICI) is a crucial tool for assessing the current state of the economy.
  • It comprises several key economic indicators, including employment levels, industrial production, personal income, and manufacturing and trade sales.
  • The calculation of the CICI involves selecting relevant indicators, normalizing the data, assigning weights, aggregating the indicators, and indexing the result.
  • The CICI is used by policymakers, businesses, and investors to monitor economic health, make strategic decisions, and inform investment strategies.
  • Despite its usefulness, the CICI has limitations, including data reliability, timeliness, scope of indicators, over-simplification, and lack of predictive power.

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