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(Mis)leading Indicators

Why Our Economic Numbers Distort Reality

Author: Zachary Karabell
March/April 2014
Foreign Affairs

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Economic numbers have come to define our world. Individuals, organizations, and governments assess how they are doing based on what these numbers tell them. Economists and analysts loosely refer to statistics measuring GDP, unemployment, inflation, and trade deficits as "leading indicators" and subscribe to the belief that these figures accurately reflect reality and provide unique insights into the health of an economy.

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