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What to Read on the Weekend

The economy is still at the forefront of the news these days, thanks to the overheated presidential campaign. We recommend you get your spin-free updates from original sources on the Web. The Economic Cycle Research Institute is one such venue. ECRI was founded by Geoffrey H. Moore, who developed, among other benchmarks, the first leading indicators of recessions and recovery in 1950. The organization has primarily served major institutions, including some central banks, since its inception.

Last May, the ECRI developed a "lite" version, a subset of its studies that would be accessible to individual investors. For $9.99 a month (a two-week free trial is available), individuals get access to the Recession-Recovery Watch at 10 a.m. Eastern time every Friday. This brief report contains just a handful of charts, but it speaks volumes about the economy's direction and the state of the business cycle. Charts track the Weekly Leading Index for the past 30 years and the most recent year, along with inflationary pressures and true cyclical turns, along with leading indicators of home prices versus actual home prices over 30 years.

The report examines indicators' ability to predict actual economic change, growth and inflation. (The Weekly Leading Index has been trending lower for several weeks and, according to the site, the growth outlook is bleak while inflation is in an upswing.) Data tables for the underlying historical numbers can be opened in Excel format. The Economic Cycle Research Institute is frequently quoted in the press, but serious students of the economy should consider this site's data and charts as just one part of their investing toolbox.