Taking Stock of the Best Economic Indicators

BOSTON (TheStreet) — Economists are like doctors for the economy.

ByDavid MacDougall, TSC Ratings Analyst

To determine the health of their patient, economists look to indicators, such as unemployment and consumer spending, in much the same way doctors monitor blood pressure and heart rate. One reading can’t provide enough information to understand the state of the economy. Several together can lead to accurate conclusions.

Earlier this year and in late 2008, many indicators pointed to the economic equivalent of a massive coronary. The U.S. economy has been in the longest recession since World War II. While there have been improvement, concerns remain. Will the economy suffer further setbacks or is it on the mend? No predictions can be guaranteed, but several key indicators point to a continued recovery. With the benchmark S&P 500 Index up about 50% in the past five months, a lot of money is riding on the economy returning to growth this year.

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