Gross national product, balance of trade, unemployment figures, inflation, and the consumer price index determine whether we feel optimistic or pessimistic about our future and dictate whether businesses hire or hunker down, governments spend trillions or try to reduce debt, and individuals buy a car, get a mortgage, or look for a job. Yet few of us know where these "leading indicators" come from, what they mean, or why they rule our world. What are the limitations of these numbers? How can we become less dependent on a few simple figures?
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