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John Authers

Dumb, Dumber and Leading Economic Indicators

This monthly data ritual was useful in the era of the slide rule. Now, it’s a crutch for not paying attention. How much should it matter to markets?

Along for the ride, every month. 

Along for the ride, every month. 

Photograph: New Line Cinema/Moviepix/Getty


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It sounds like a classic essay question: “Leading Economic Indicators are neither Leading nor Economic nor Indicators, yet people still care about them. Discuss.” It’s been obvious for a while that the official LEI have uses, but that calling the next move in the market is not among them. And yet they still seem to matter more than they should.