The Leading Indicators

The Leading Indicators

A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World

How did we come by the “leading indicators” we place such stock in? We allocate trillions of dollars and make public policy and personal decisions based upon them, but what do they really tell us?

“The leading indicators” shape our lives intimately, but few of us know where these numbers come from, what they mean, or why they rule the world. GDP, inflation, unemployment, trade, and a host of averages determine whether we feel optimistic or pessimistic about the country’s future and our own. They dictate whether businesses hire and invest, or fire and hunker down, whether governments spend trillions or try to reduce debt, whether individuals marry, buy a car, get a mortgage, or look for a job.

Zachary Karabell tackles the history and the limitations of each of our leading indicators. The solution is not to invent new indicators, but to become less dependent on a few simple figures and tap into the data revolution. We have unparalleled power to find the information we need, but only if we let go of the outdated indicators that lead and mislead us.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451651256 | 
  • February 2014
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Read an Excerpt

The Leading Indicators INTRODUCTION
What if I told you that many of the assumptions we make about our economic life are wrong? What if those assumptions shaped our domestic economic policies? What if they determined core aspects of our international strategy? What if they bolstered the deep and intractable funk that seized the developed world after the financial crisis of 2008–09? What if indeed.

We live in a world defined by economic numbers. We assess how we are doing... see more

About the Author

Zachary Karabell

Zachary Karabell is an author, money manager, commentator, and president of River Twice Research, where he analyzes economic and political trends. Educated at Columbia, Oxford, and Harvard, where he received his PhD, Karabell has written eleven previous books. He is a regular commentator on CNBC, MSNBC, and CNN. He writes the weekly “Edgy Optimist” column for Reuters and The Atlantic, and is a contributor to such publications as The Daily Beast, Time, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, The New York Times, and Foreign Affairs.

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