FMN: Leading Indicators - A Brief History of Numbers That Rule Our World

Zachary Karabell on Leading Indicators of Success Every day we are bombarded with numbers. Some tell us how we are doing. Others indicate whether the economy is growing or shrinking and whether the future looks bright or dim. Figures showing gross national product, balance of trade, unemployment, inflation and consumer confidence guide our actions, yet few of us know what they mean or why they are so important.

Read More

Deflating Expectations

n a Reuters poll out this week, most economists say they are expecting more robust inflation this year, to the tune of 2 percent. The poll accurately reflects the plethora of emails from research firms in my inbox—a slowly building chorus predicting rising prices along with an uptick in overall economic activity.

Read More

The Unknowable Lightness of Being

Each month, the Federal Reserve releases its latest minutes of its last meeting along with its projections of economic activity (www.federalreserve.gov). The minutes just released indicate that its prior forecasts have been tweaked a bit, with update projections for unemployment over the next two years, GDP growth, and inflation. As new data become available, the hundreds of economists at the Fed revise and recalculate numbers, which means that any forecast rarely lasts more than a few months.

Read More