The BBC today carries the headline, “US manufacturing output hits 6 year high.” That sounded like an April Fool’s joke. Sure enough, FRED shows manufacturing output 15% below its 2007 peak at the end of last year, a gap that would be almost impossible to make up in a quarter. The problem is that the ISM-PMI index reported by the BBC is a measure of growth, not absolute level. The BBC has confused the stock (output) with the flow (output growth). In reality, things are improving, but there’s still quite a bit of ground to cover to recover the peak.