STATE OF BUSINESS: Barometer Steady

Industrial commodity prices are one of the surest economic barometers. If they rise during a recession, they usually signal a recovery; if they drop as a result of reduced buying of raw materials, they signal a turndown in industrial activity.

In the '203, the industrial commodity index was going down long before the '29 crash. In the 1937 recession, the commodity index started down three months before other indexes declined.

Last week the Commerce Department's index of wholesale industrial prices (nonfarm, nonfood products) showed the amazing stability of current industrial prices. The new...

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