I intend to write every weekend about the state of the U.S. economy as measured by the statistics that economists call "indicators." The catastrophe of 2020, even more than with other recessions, has led to discussions of whether our recovery is / will be "L" shaped, "V" shaped, "U" shaped, or—a new entry this year that I wish I had thought up myself—"K" shaped: that is, involving an upturn for a segment of our society and not for others.

Not everyone knows, but I have expertise in dealing with these indicators. Thirty years ago, during my first career out of college, I was an actual Research Economist (with some old business cards to prove it!) charged with analyzing, writing about, and working on a team of econometricians to mathematically forecast these numbers. Now, two careers later, I want to return to a rigorous yet accessible presentation of what we can learn from these stats. They include the familiar ones of GDP and the unemployment rate, plus a raft of new, highly interesting weekly and daily indicators that shed light on how we are doing. As I spend time learning about them and about the unfolding story they tell, I want to share that with as wide an audience as possible.

For example, in my first newsletter I focused on a couple of numbers about the large retail / consumer sector of the economy. The next weekend I presented three recent data releases about the construction and sales of housing. Each time as I sit down to write, I might not even know yet what the numbers say, but as I dig into them I’ll analyze whatever the numbers say, explain how it fits into a trend, try to put it into context, and I hope leave you a little wiser or at least better informed than you had been.

I know that watching TV news is a very poor way of keeping up with most of what goes on in the world, and I especially pity the fools who regard social media as a useful source of information. For me—even though I spend at least half of my waking hours taking in information, trying to do so from widely dispersed and trusted sources, and because of my background and interests putting a premium on economic/financial info—by the end of the week I find that I've still missed the type of information I'm writing about here. I have to go look for it. My point is how thoroughly inadequate our other news purveyors are at doing their job. I'll probably be similarly surprised by the indicators every week, and I hope you join me in processing the news of whether/how we are pulling out of this catastrophe.

I'll always try to be interesting and provide the truth as I understand it.

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Analyzing indicators of the U.S. economy and "molding vague notions of the general public into mystified belief"


Steven Lauridsen

long-time educator whose first career was as a research economist at the world's foremost private-sector econometric modeling and forecasting firm