Economists Name Least Useful Indicator

A Chicago Tribune article on Sunday named the most useful and useless economic indicators. A panel of 15 economists/analysts (including yours truly) participated in the discussion.

There were many indicators deemed helpful, with very little overlap. As the old expression goes, "that’s what makes a horse race." The big surprise was the widespread agreement, by a large margin, of which indicator was of the least value.

The envelope please . . . (I’m so excited) . . . And the winner of the economic report deemed most worthless is:

The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Indicators

No upsets here, the favorite took the prize! Kudos to the conf bd for producing the LEIs — now widely acknowledged as the most useless economic indicator in the land! 

Via the Chicago Tribune, here’s our Ubiq-cerpt:™

"We asked 15 economic analysts to tell us which indicators are most–and
least–valuable to everyday investors. One thing they do agree on: Data
are dandy, but trends are tops…

Our experts also named a few names on a handful of economic reports that are worth overlooking.

Leading the list of pans was the leading economic indicators, a monthly index published by The Conference Board that compiles 10 other economic reports, including jobless claims, interest-rate spreads, stock prices and building permits. (emphasis added)

Let me be the first to offer my hearty congratulations to the Conference Board for all their efforts. Thanks to your insightful work, you managed to take something with actual utility for investors, and turn it into a worthless, widely-ridiculed, piece of economic flotsam. Nicely done.

Congrats on all your fine work . . . 

Experts gauge the gauges
Janet Kidd Stewart
Chicago Tribune, September 25, 2005 (Your Money columnist),1,7931852.story

Follow Indicators? Look For Momentum,0,7259824.story

Ha Ha
Nelson Munz: Economic Analysis & Commentary

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. spencer commented on Sep 26

    My personal favorite for the best leading indicator of financial markets is the purchasing managers deliveries index — a component of the overall PMI.

  2. Lord commented on Sep 26

    Now that the LEI has had two negative readings, what new change is in store to correct this obvious deficiency?

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