Leading Indicators in Historical Perspective
Business cycle indicators are based on business cycle theory that focuses on substantially "uniform sequences in economic activity". These sequences, in turn, are revealed in statistical time series of the indicators that typically lead, coincide, or lag the business cycle. It is the recurrence of these temporal relationships, anticipating, reflecting, and confirming the impact of the cycle on the economy, that give indicators their theoretical explanation, as well as their potential forecasting usefulness. One can gain a good deal of insight into the relationship between business cycle indicators and the macro-economy by examining with some care the changes which have been made by the successive revisions of the short list of most reliable indicators. First, the lists, together with some explanation of the changes they reveal, will be presented. Then, the significance of these changes will be assessed, in light of the nature of business fluctuations in a modern market-oriented economy. (fragment of text)
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