OUTLOOK: An Ominous Index?

The worrisome "pause" in the nation's economic recovery (TIME, Oct. 4) was further documented last week when the Commerce Department announced its Index of Leading Economic Indicators for August. The index dropped for the first time in 18 months, declining 1.5% from July's figure. On Wall Street investors responded to the news by sending the Dow Jones industrial average into an 18.20-point plunge, its biggest one-day slide in more than four months.

Downward Revisions. The number that caused all the stir is a complex mathematical composite of twelve* important economic indicators. Of these three were largely responsible for the...