GDP’s Going Down? That’s Good!

It’s our national mantra: GDP. Gross Domestic Product. No other figure rules our world more completely. We saw it again this week when the government released its latest revision of the first-quarter GDP numbers that showed the U.S. economy is contracting slightly. The only thing that’s now growing, it seems, is the fretting of pundits and economists over the new numbers. Their common cry: How do we get things moving again?

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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.

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Book TV After Words: Zachary Karabell, "The Leading Indicators."

There are a set of five economic indicators that have been guiding U.S. economic policy for decades, but most are not understood by the average citizen and, Mr. Karabell argues, are not as relevant today as when they were created. Gross national product, balance of trade, unemployment, inflation and consumer confidence should no longer be the primary basis for business plans or monetary policy, he says, as the technology revolution has made considerably more data available. He talks with Wall Street Journal reporter Kimberly Strassel.

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Shocked. Shocked!

The publication this week of Michael Lewis’ new book Flash Boys has led to a heated debate about the role of high-frequency trading in today’s global financial markets. The most contentious spark was Lewis’ claim on 60 Minutes that the prevalence of such trading means that our markets are “rigged,” an accusation that touched a nerve and set off a furious series of discussions in the past few days.

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Thank God for the Chinese Consumer

Don't count out the U.S. consumer. For the past decades, that has been a ready rebuttal against predictions of economic doom and gloom for America and the world. The average American's spending capacity has proven more resilient than anyone could have predicted. At various points over the last 60 years it has supplied the ballast for companies domestic and world-wide.

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