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There’s a New Way to See When the Economy Is Going Off the Rails

Realtime Inequality quickly analyzes a variety of data sources to detect widening income and wealth disparities before it’s too late.

Lower-earning Americans have seen a sharper rebound in recent years than after the financial crisis. 

Lower-earning Americans have seen a sharper rebound in recent years than after the financial crisis. 

Photographer: Bing Guan/Bloomberg

The last couple of years have been the economic equivalent of driving through a mountain pass in a blizzard. Never mind predicting the next turn — investors and policymakers barely know where they are at any given moment.

Sometimes new economic data only add to the confusion: Preliminary gross domestic product figures released last week showed the US economy contracting at a 0.9% annual rate in the second quarter — while consumers kept splurging on services and workers were enjoying one of the hottest job markets in decades.