Saturday, Feb. 07, 2009

Looking for a Sign

The economy stinks. GDP fell 3.8% last quarter and experts believe the decline this quarter will be even worse. But recessions don't last forever, and we'll be coming out of this one long before official statistics say so. That's just the way it works. Most economic data — like the quarterly GDP reading — are lagging indicators. What you need are leading indicators that will signal when we've made a turn. (See pictures of the stock market crash of 1929.)

So far, there's been little evidence to suggest a bottom is at hand. But with this recession well into its second year it's not too early to start looking for signs of a recovery. The earliest clues will be anecdotal — you have to park farther from the mall entrance; your contractor takes longer to return your calls. Real evidence would follow. Here are 10 indicators to help you know when times are getting better

See pictures of the recession of 1958.