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The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World
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The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  86 ratings  ·  21 reviews
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
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ebook, 304 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by Simon & Schuster (first published February 1st 2014)
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Kay
This is a totally interesting exploration of the many factors we use to measure the health of the economy. Karabell seriously takes a look at the main measures we take as gospel in today's picture of the overall economy -- CPI, unemployment, GDP and more. Many of them are inventions that are less than a century old. All of them are deeply flawed.

Much of the way we frame modern news and interpretation of economic growth is heavily shaped by these numbers, yet few people have a thorough understan
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Steven Bragg
The concept is interesting, but the treatment is not concise. The main points of the book have been covered by the halfway point, after which the author diverges into alternative systems and recommendations - and the writing becomes more turgid. Reading about 100 pages into the text will provide the reader with most of the salient points.
Kate
I won a copy of this book through Goodreads, and Karabell's book far exceeded my expectations. The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers that Ruled Our World is a must read book for anyone who is concerned about the economy. Karabell addresses concerns regarding the methodolgy statisticians use to quantify the economy. Often, statisticians calculations do not gauge the experience of people and businesses. Karabell is a brilliant writer and outstanding researcher! Before reading this ...more
Rich
A bit dry

The book starts out well giving you the history of major economic statistics and how it came about. The author does a fine job in the department but a majority of the book is focused on why those numbers should not carry the significance they now do.

He does a great job of stating his case and I agree with him 100% but he gets a bit wordy. In fact, I will describe it as word barf. He could of made his point in half the amount of words that he actually used.

All in all, it was an interes
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Josh Gunter
This book will be too simplistic for anyone who's taken introductory Econ. courses, but the author's overall point is interesting: national economic statistics contain far less insight into the "real" economy than we think they do, and they're even less helpful for navigating our personal economic lives. The author advocates building your own set of "bespoke" indicators, but is short on examples of how to actually do this.

Read this if you're looking for a broad, non-technical introduction into
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Jeffrey
The Leading Indicators gives a good account of the history and the people behind some of the statistics that we come to rely on today. It's message though should be familiar to anyone that deals with data - you can only obtain answers for what you seek to measure. That insight is not new - however there is some insight provided into why the indicators were constructed as they were.

The last part of the book feels unnecessarily long - the penultimate chapter involves Karabell telling us in about 1
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victor harris
Makes an excellent case that our key economic indicators which have so much impact on policy making are hopelessly outdated. GDP, inflation, unemployment are all markers that still carry immense influence but do not realistically address a modern world of globalization, transnational corporations, and a electro-digital world. He supplies innovative alternatives that may offer better gauges of 21st century economics. Quite readable with the only downside being it was a little repetitive in stress ...more
Christine
I won this book through Good reads. I have always been skeptical of the media in general, especially the way the talking heads use statistics to measure the days leading indicators to arrive at so called accurate conclusions. The educated personalities in the media introduce the information in such a confident manner and they attempt to convince us that information is infallible and has been accurately collected for generations. I am happy to learn that my skepticism of the media is still justi ...more
Todd
Karabell makes a very important point in this book, exploring persuasively how economic measurements with their roots in the Great Depression no longer measure economic activity in a useful manner and can create false perceptions. The history of the visionary government statisticians was great to read, especially as someone who does performance measurement for the government for a living.

My biggest criticism is probably more appropriately directed at the editor rather than Karabell himself. The
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Allisonperkel
An enjoyable ride about the economic indicators we use today and how they came about. At times a little repetitive though always entertaining
Lynn
This is a really eye opening discussion of the idea that statistics such as the GDP, consumer confidence survey, unemployment rate, inflation rate and balance of trade play too great a role in our understanding of how we are doing. I highly recommend it.
Dan
If you vote in democratic elections you should read this book.
Luke Alonso
I very much enjoyed the historical parts of the book. Our statistical indicators were each purpose built to meet a specific need and are now used outside of that original purpose. This is the fate of most statistics in business as well as government. The circumstances and development of our indicators was fascinating, but later sections don't offer many alternatives or ways to avoid the inevitable obsolescence of statistical measures.
Michaela
It took me a while to shift gears on this book as math is absent, rather it places the indicators we have come to fixate on in their historical context.
Justin Time
Great book! Its sort of the equivalent to the matrix of current economics. Its the red pill! This is a great place to start if you 2nd guess the numbers that you hear every day and especially if you 2nd guess their interpretations. If you are already familiar with the flaws in things like the trade deficit or GDP, you might not be too surprised.Perhaps, you already took the red pill!
Lauren Chrisman
I received this book for free via Goodreads Firstreads.

This book was interesting but not dense. I think it would've benefited from inclusion of the formulas for the indicators- the author rather skims over them. He gives a detailed history of how the indicator came to be, but never goes into what the indicator or formula for the indicator is.
Dean
Very good quick read.
Josefine
Although this book is highly technical for a layperson as myself, it is very interesting to read bits and pieces. However, my husband who is a "numbers guy" is really enjoying the information behind the numbers.
Jim Angstadt
Bailed early. Just did not grab me.
My take-away: Indicators are imperfect and need to be updated occasionally.
That's not a big surprise.
Alexander
Alexander marked it as to-read
Jul 29, 2015
Piotr Zielinski
Piotr Zielinski marked it as to-read
Jul 12, 2015
Ben Corser
Ben Corser marked it as to-read
Jul 10, 2015
Robert Swami
Robert Swami marked it as to-read
Jul 04, 2015
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“The idea that the government—any government—had a responsibility to help support those of able body who couldn’t support themselves was alien. That was charity, and charity was the province of churches or local associations and in no way the responsibility of government.” 1 likes
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