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Cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. paper). Title. 48-1984. BM (c) 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 BM (p) 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Page v For L L L Page vii Forecasting occupies us all for much of our lives. It begins with the speculative wagging of heads over our cradles and continues until the prayers with which we are hopefully laid to rest. Sometimes it is an idle amusement, sometimes a matter of life and death, sometimesand this is where the economist takes a handit carries rewards and punishments in the form of profit or loss.
What is the Commerce Department's re- Page 8 lease date for such and such a figure? When are the revisions available? Are the revisions usually significant? Should seasonally adjusted data be considered or not? What about adjustments for inflation? And it is always important to consider the components of each figure. The latest release may show the economy growing at a healthy clip. But if a large portion of the gains can be attributed to inventory accumulation, then the situation is more troublesome.
2 shows the actual business cycles in the United States since World War II. Specifically, the chart depicts the growth rate of real GDP. The vertical lines indicate recessions. Clearly, uniformity is lacking. Changes in economic activity, by their nature, are difficult to predict. The term "business cycle" is deceptive because the ups and downs of the aggregate economy are not uniform in any respect. 1 Hypothetical Business Cycles cycles were periodic, forecasting turning points in economic activity would be an uncomplicated task.