In review, this is a business cycle, which shows that it is normal for the economy to go through periods of growth and contraction.
At any given time, most people are concerned about economic factors like the unemployment rate and inflation.
Economists, though, use many different kinds of data to help them do three different things:
These are the three different kinds of economic indicators, and economists study them to give them an overall view of the economy:
Economic indicators provide a snapshot of the economy at any given point in time, so this is why they are studied in macroeconomics--because macroeconomics is all about the overall economy and how healthy it is.
Leading indicators are trends, patterns, or situations that assist in forecasting the economy. They are looking at where the economy is headed.
Examples of leading indicators include:
All three of these tend to indicate where the economy might be headed, which is why they are leading indicators.
Lagging indicators, on the other hand, are trends, patterns, or situations that provide a clear indication of where the economy has been. Basically, they are after the fact.
Examples of lagging indicators include:
All of these things show us, after the fact, where our economy might have been, so they tend to lag what is currently happening in the economy.
Finally, a coincident index are indicators that provide a view of the current state of the economy.
A good example of a coincident indicator is consumer confidence, which is the subject of a different tutorial. It refers to the fact that how consumers feel about the economy tends to be a statistic that indicates how they feel about what is going on right now--which is why it is coincident.
There are many different indicators which help us to assess the state of the economy. It is helpful to have multiple indicators because:
Therefore, this is why it is helpful to have so many.
Source: Adapted from Sophia instructor Kate Eskra.