“The Leading Indicators,” by Zachary Karabell
In The Leading Indicators, economist and investor Zachary Karabell offers a history and critique of macroeconomic indicators—statistics like gross domestic product, unemployment, and inflation, that policymakers and financiers use to forecast the economic future. Karabell argues that while these indicators have a profound influence on global politics and finance, they are easily misapplied and often too coarse to aid in highly specific forecasts. They were designed for a bygone era, he contends, before the explosion of data in the 21st century, and data’s widespread availability today may help address some of the major indicators’ problems. Karabell recommends drawing on drawing from big data sources to create “bespoke indicators” for particular business questions, less grand in scope but with more predictive power than traditional indicators.