Survey of economic activity: Monthly leasing and finance index

Survey of economic activity: Monthly leasing and finance index

May new business volume down 8% year-over-year, down 14% month-to-month, up 3% year-to-date

July 3, 2014
Manufacturing Group

Washington, D.C. – The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s (ELFA) Monthly Leasing and Finance Index (MLFI-25), which reports economic activity from 25 companies representing a cross section of the $827 billion equipment finance sector, showed their overall new business volume for May was $6.9 billion, down 8% from new business volume in May 2013. Month-over-month, new business volume was down 14% from April. Year to date, cumulative new business volume increased 3% compared to 2013. 

Receivables over 30 days were unchanged from the previous month at 2.0%, and were up from 1.6% from the same period in 2013. Charge-offs were unchanged from the previous two months at an all-time low of 0.2%.

Credit approvals totaled 76.1% in May, a decrease from 77.4% the previous month. Total headcount for equipment finance companies was up 1.0% year over year. 

Separately, the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation's Monthly Confidence Index (MCI-EFI) for June is 61.4, an easing from three consecutive months of two-year high levels that topped at 65.4. 

ELFA president and CEO William G. Sutton, CAE, said: “The small decline in new business volume makes the case for a slow recovery in certain sectors of the economy in which equipment financing plays an important role. As noted previously, the momentum created by monthly increases in equipment financings on a consistent basis will be difficult to maintain, particularly as certain segments of the U.S. economy try to regain their footing from the economic downturn experienced a few years ago. It is important to note, however, that cumulative new business volume is still up for the year.”

Daniel McKew, president, Capital One Equipment Finance, said, “While you could look at the collective data reported for the month of May and conclude that there may be an across the board easing in equipment finance, it is so modest that I see it as a minor pause in preparation for the final half of the year that naturally produces more velocity. I am also very encouraged that the Fed’s continued quantitative easing could impact interest rates. Even a modest rise will help the market balance, allow it to arbitrage and create increased velocity.”

About the ELFA’s MLFI-25

The MLFI-25 is the only index that reflects capex, or the volume of commercial equipment financed in the U.S. The MLFI-25 is released globally at 8 a.m. Eastern time from Washington, D.C., each month on the day before the U.S. Department of Commerce releases the durable goods report. The MLFI-25 is a financial indicator that complements the durable goods report and other economic indexes, including the Institute for Supply Management Index, which reports economic activity in the manufacturing sector. Together with the MLFI-25 these reports provide a complete view of the status of productive assets in the U.S. economy: equipment produced, acquired and financed.

The MLFI-25 is a time series that reflects two years of business activity for the 25 companies currently participating in the survey. The latest MLFI-25, including methodology and participants is available below and also at 

MLFI-25 Methodology

The ELFA produces the MLFI-25 survey to help member organizations achieve competitive advantage by providing them with leading-edge research and benchmarking information to support strategic business decision making. 

The MLFI-25 is a barometer of the trends in U.S. capital equipment investment. Five components are included in the survey: new business volume (originations), aging of receivables, charge-offs, credit approval ratios, (approved vs. submitted) and headcount for the equipment finance business.

The MLFI-25 measures monthly commercial equipment lease and loan activity as reported by participating ELFA member equipment finance companies representing a cross section of the equipment finance sector, including small ticket, middle-market, large ticket, bank, captive and independent leasing and finance companies. Based on hard survey data, the responses mirror the economic activity of the broader equipment finance sector and current business conditions nationally. 

Source: ELFA