Forecasting & Business Charts [Slideshow]

The slideshow below, assembled by Walter Friedman, author of Fortune Tellers: The Story of America’s First Economic Forecasters, brings together several forecasting and business charts from the early twentieth century.

More information on many of these charts and the forecasters themselves is in Friedman’s book which you can sample here. If you would like to download a PDF of these images and captions, please right click and save this file.

Fortune Tellers 2
Fortune Tellers 1
1 The Babson Compositplot, 1921
2 Irving Fisher's Diagram of the Equation of Exchange, 1912
3 Irving Fisher's Diagram of the Equation of Exchange, 1912
4 John Moody's View of the Economy, 1904
5 James H Brookmire's Barometer, 1907
6 Brookmire's Barometer Chart
7 Harvard Economic Service Chart
Karl Karsten's Map of Business Conditions
9 Brookmire's Cycle Chart of Business and Banking
10 Malcolm Rorty's Depiction of the Business Cycle
11 Babson's Map of the United States for Merchants and Bankers, 1911
12 Brookmire's survey of business conditions in the United States

A new type of forecasting

The years from the turn of the century to World War I were a fertile time for many business analysts, including the scientific management exponent, F. W. Taylor. While some experts sought to improve the inner workings of firms, other tried to make sense of the very atmosphere in which business operated.

Who were the Fortune Tellers?

After the Panic of 1907, economic forecasters began producing newsletters.

Roger W. Babson published Babson’s Reports, which featured the Compositplot of ups and downs. In 1909, John Moody, who is today remembered for his credit rating company, started his own weekly market report. In 1910 Irving Fisher, a pioneer of mathematical economics, published the first of several charts, intended for economic prediction, in the Journal of Economics. Around this same time, James Brookmire, the son of a grocer in St. Louis, founded the Brookmire Economic Chart company and began publishing forecasts on a regular basis.

The most influential forecasting chart of the period belonged to the Harvard Economic Service, which, in 1922, founded a weekly newsletter that featured its A-B-C curve. Along with these charts were other efforts to map economic activity, including Malcolm Rorty’s sketch of the business cycle and several attempts to capture the geography of business within the U.S.

The Babson Compositplot, from 1921

The large shaded areas marked A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, represent depressions below and expansions above the “normal” line. Babson believed that areas of expansion (B, for instance), would be equal to areas of recession (C, for instance) that followed. The chart also contained a wealth of other information, including stock prices, bond prices, and commodity prices.

Source: Roger W. Babson, Business Barometers Used in the Accumulation of Money (Wellesley Hills, Mass: Babson Institute, 1921), insert.

Irving Fisher’s Diagram of the Equation of Exchange for use in forecasting, 1912

While Fisher did not produce a forecasting chart, he did create a diagram to illustrate the Equation of Exchange (MV + M’V’ = PT), which he depicted showing a mechanical balance. The left side of the balance symbolized the left side of the equation, with a small weight standing for M, the money in circulation, and a larger bank book standing for M’, deposits in checking accounts. The distance to the left of the fulcrum of the weight represented the velocity of circulation (V) and the distance of the bankbook, the velocity of circulation of bank deposits (V’).

(continued in the next slide)

Irving Fisher’s Diagram of the Equation of Exchange for use in forecasting, 1912

The volume of trade (T) was represented by a tray on the right, with the index of prices (P) at which these goods were sold, represented by the distance of the tray to the right. The diagram showed the changes in the values for all the components of the Equation of Exchange from 1896 to 1911. To predict the future, Fisher thought, one needed to look especially at recent changes in the bank deposits, which, if rising rapidly, indicated a coming crisis.

Source: Irving Fisher, “‘The Equation of Exchange,’ 1896-1910,” The American Economic Review 1:2 (Jun 1911): p. 299.

John Moody’s view of the economy

In this 1904 chart, Moody encapsulates a firm-centered view of the economy, in this case showing the dominance of the Morgan banking interests and Rockefeller’s Standard Oil. Moody wrote at the top of the chart, “The large circle in the center of the chart indicates the dominant position of the Trust-formed industries of the Nation; directly linked to and representing this dominant force we find two groups of capitalists, the Standard Oil, or Rockefeller, and the Morgan groups.” Moody’s diagram resembled something of a family tree of capitalism.

Source John Moody, The Truth about The Trusts: A Description and Analysis of the American Trust Movement (New York: Moody Publishing Company, 1904), between pages viii and ix.

James H. Brookmire’s Barometer, close-up

James H. Brookmire’s Barometer depicted three indexes of economic sectors—business activity, the stock market (an index of thirty-two stocks), and banking resources. The small print reads, “Condition of business, banking, and the stock market in February, 1907, foretelling the panic of October, 9 months later.”

Source: The Brookmire Economic Chart Company, A Graphic Record of Fundamental, Financial and Business Conditions Since 1885 (St. Louis: Brookmire, 1913).

Brookmire’s Barometer Chart

Here, Brookmire combined his barometer with a chart of values over time for general business (a black line), average stocks (in shaded line), and banking (in sold red).

Source: The Brookmire Economic Chart Company, A Graphic Record of Fundamental, Financial and Business Conditions Since 1885 (St. Louis: Brookmire, 1913).

Harvard Economic Service Chart

Harvard Economic Service Chart, like Brookmire’s Barometer, was a leading indicator model. Persons believed that Group A (representing stocks) forecast Group B (representing business activity); in turn Group B forecasted Group C (representing banking). In this way, the three indexes together created a view of overall business conditions and, in Person’s words, “future tendencies.” The graph above showed historical values from 1903 to 1908.

Source: Warren M. Persons, “The Index: A Statement of Results,” Review of Economic Statistics 1:2 (April 1919): 112.

Karl Karsten’s “Map of Business Conditions”

Economist Karl Karsten showed American states in relative proportion to their population and shaded according to condition of “business activity,” with the darkest states (New Hampshire and Vermont) representing poor levels. The chart revealed the relative geographic distribution of business activity and population—still very weighted toward New England, Pennsylvania (with the rise of the steel industry in Pittsburgh), and Illinois (with the growth of Chicago and its meatpacking plants and grain industry).

Source: Karl Karsten Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Brookmire’s Cycle Chart of Business and Banking

This chart shows how the ups and downs of business activity tended to deplete and then free up banking resources. As business activity ran from “normal” to “prostrate,” banking resources climbed from “normal” to “abundant” and even “plethoric.” When business activity subsequently climbed to “feverish” and “hazardous,” at the peak of the cycle, banking resources fell to “overextended” and even “critical.”

Source: The Brookmire Economic Chart Company, A Graphic Record of Fundamental, Financial and Business Conditions Since 1885 (St. Louis: Brookmire, 1913).

Malcolm Rorty’s depiction of the business cycle

In this graph, capitalist economies had four discernible phases: revival, prosperity, liquidation, and depression. Above each of these four, Rorty included a list of economic conditions common to each to help readers determine the end of one phase and the start of the next. Note that the chart showed an especially sharp drop of business activity during times of liquidation or crisis.

Source Rorty, Some Problems in Current Economics (1922).

Babson’s Map of the United States for Merchants and Bankers, 1911

The map showed regions where failures were increasing (shown in squares) and business declining (shown in circles).

Brookmire’s survey of business conditions in the United States

Regions were color-coded to indicate whether crop production was good, fair, or poor. Cities were marked with stars if they were numerous business failures, with diamonds if they held dull opportunities for salesmen, and ampersands if the opportunities for salesmen were improving.

Source: The Brookmire Economic Chart Company, A Graphic Record of Fundamental, Financial and Business Conditions Since 1885 (St. Louis, Mo., 1912).

Fortune Tellers 2 thumbnail
Fortune Tellers 1 thumbnail
1 The Babson Compositplot, 1921 thumbnail
2 Irving Fisher's Diagram of the Equation of Exchange, 1912 thumbnail
3 Irving Fisher's Diagram of the Equation of Exchange, 1912 thumbnail
4 John Moody's View of the Economy, 1904 thumbnail
5 James H Brookmire's Barometer, 1907 thumbnail
6 Brookmire's Barometer Chart thumbnail
7 Harvard Economic Service Chart thumbnail
Karl Karsten's Map of Business Conditions thumbnail
9 Brookmire's Cycle Chart of Business and Banking thumbnail
10 Malcolm Rorty's Depiction of the Business Cycle thumbnail
11 Babson's Map of the United States for Merchants and Bankers, 1911 thumbnail
12 Brookmire's survey of business conditions in the United States thumbnail

 

 

New book trailer for Eswar Prasad’s THE DOLLAR TRAP: How the U.S. Dollar Tightened Its Grip on Global Finance

This just in:
Check out the new book trailer for the eagerly-awaited new book THE DOLLAR TRAP: How the U.S. Dollar Tightened Its Grip on Global Finance, by Cornell and Brookings economist Eswar Prasad, due out the first week of February.

New Economics and Finance Catalog!

Be among the first to browse and download our new economics and finance catalog!

Of particular interest is The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality by Angus Deaton. In The Great Escape, Deaton—one of the foremost experts on economic development and on poverty—tells the remarkable story of how, starting 250 years ago, some parts of the world began to experience sustained progress, opening up gaps and setting the stage for today’s hugely unequal world. Deaton takes an in-depth look at the historical and ongoing patterns behind the health and wealth of nations, and he addresses what needs to be done to help those left behind. Demonstrating how changes in health and living standards have transformed our lives, The Great Escape is a powerful guide to addressing the well-being of all nations.

Also be sure to note Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change by Edmund Phelps. In this book, Nobel Prize-winning economist Edmund Phelps draws on a lifetime of thinking to make a sweeping new argument about what makes nations prosper—and why the sources of that prosperity are under threat today. Why did prosperity explode in some nations between the 1820s and 1960s, creating not just unprecedented material wealth but “flourishing”—meaningful work, self-expression, and personal growth for more people than ever before? Phelps makes the case that the wellspring of this flourishing was modern values such as the desire to create, explore, and meet challenges. These values fueled the grassroots dynamism that was necessary for widespread, indigenous innovation. Most innovation wasn’t driven by a few isolated visionaries like Henry Ford; rather, it was driven by millions of people empowered to think of, develop, and market innumerable new products and processes, and improvements to existing ones. Mass flourishing—a combination of material well-being and the “good life” in a broader sense—was created by this mass innovation.

And don’t miss out on An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions by Jean Drèze & Amartya Sen. The deep inequalities in Indian society tend to constrict public discussion, confining it largely to the lives and concerns of the relatively affluent. Drèze and Sen present a powerful analysis of these deprivations and inequalities as well as the possibility of change through democratic practice.

Even more foremost titles in economics and finance can be found in the catalog. You may also sign up with ease to be notified of forthcoming titles at http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/. Your e-mail address will remain confidential!

 

Peter Dougherty and Robert Shiller off to the Nobel prize ceremony

Looking dapper in their tuxedos, 2013 Nobel in Economics co-winner Robert Shiller (r) and Princeton University Press Director Peter Dougherty (l) prepare for the awards ceremony today at the Stockholm Concer Hall in Sweden. Shiller, along with fellow economists Eugene Fama and Lars Peter Hansen (also a PUP author), were awarded the prize in October. Read all about winners of the The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2013, as it is officially called, on the official website.

dougherty nobel

BOOK FACT FRIDAY – The Federal Reserve & Ben S. Bernanke

k9928“The Federal Reserve was founded 1914, and concerns about both macroeconomic stability and financial stability motivated the decision of Congress and President Woodrow Wilson to create it. After the Civil War and into the early 1900s, there was no central bank, so any kind of financial stability functions that could not be performed by the Treasury had to be done privately.” -Ben S. Bernanke, from chapter one of The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis

In 2012, Ben Bernanke, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, gave a series of lectures about the Federal Reserve and the 2008 financial crisis, as part of a course at George Washington University on the role of the Federal Reserve in the economy. In this unusual event, Bernanke revealed important background and insights into the central bank’s crucial actions during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Taken directly from these historic talks, The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis offers insight into the guiding principles behind the Fed’s activities and the lessons to be learned from its handling of recent economic challenges.

Ben S. Bernanke is chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve. He has served as chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors and as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. Before his time in public service he was a professor of economics at Princeton University. His many books include Essays on the Great Depression and Inflation Targeting (both Princeton).

The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis
by Ben S. Bernanke

We invite you to read chapter one online at: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9928.pdf

Zoltan Acs on “Why Philanthropy Matters”

…For wealth to invigorate the capitalist system it needs to be “kept in rotation” like the planets around the sun, and for this task American philanthropy is very well suited. Examining the dynamics of American-style capitalism since the eighteenth century, philanthropy achieves three critical outcomes. It deals with the question of what to do with wealth–keep it, tax it, or give it away. It complements government in creating public goods. And, by focusing on education, science, and medicine, philanthropy has a positive effect on economic growth and productivity. Individuals such as Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Carnegie, Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg and Oprah Winfrey have used their wealth to establish institutions and promote knowledge, and philanthropy has given an edge to American-style capitalism by promoting vital forces–like university research–necessary for technological innovation, economic equality, and economic security.

Philanthropy is therefore an invisible, underappreciated force for progress in American-style capitalism–the secret ingredient that fails to get mentioned in economic accounts of capitalism…

Source: “Why Philanthropy Matters” at History News Network

 

Zoltan Acs has a great article on the themes of his forthcoming book Why Philanthropy Matters over at History News Network.

bookjacket

Why Philanthropy Matters
How the Wealthy Give, and What It Means for Our Economic Well-Being
Zoltan J. Acs

 

Stanford finance prof Anat Admati discusses her new book, with Martin Hellwig, THE BANKERS’ NEW CLOTHES

Stanford finance and economics professor Anat Admati discusses her new book, with Martin Hellwig, THE BANKERS’ NEW CLOTHES: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It, out in March, with the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Follow Professor Admati on her popular Twitter feed @anatadmati

Brink Lindsey discusses his new eBook HUMAN CAPITALISM with Glenn Loury on Bloggingheads

PUP’s first eBook-original HUMAN CAPITALISM: How Economic Growth Has Made Us Smarter–and More Unequal, by Brink Lindsey

In Princeton University Press’s first EBook original, Brink Lindsey demands an investment in “human capital” to stop the growing divide between the haves and have-nots

What explains the growing divide between the wealthy and everybody else? Politicians, pundits, scholars, journalists, economists and many others have tried to solve this critical question that would create a more equal society. In Princeton University Press’s first Ebook original HUMAN CAPITALISM: How Economic Growth Has Made Us Smarter—and More Unequal (Publication Date: August 8, 2012; Ebook $4.99), author and Kauffman Foundation scholar Brink Lindsey argues that the gap between elites and the rest of us can best be explained by the ever-growing complexity of modern economies and the barriers to the acquisition of the skills—“Human Capital”— necessary to not only survive but thrive in a new economic landscape.

The complexity of today’s economy is not only making these elites richer—it is also making them smarter. As the economy makes ever-greater demands on their minds, the successful are making ever-greater investments in education and other ways of increasing their children’s human capital, expanding their cognitive skills and leading them to still higher levels of success. But unfortunately, even as the rich are securely riding this virtuous cycle, the poor are trapped in a vicious one, as a pattern of family breakdown, unemployment, and dysfunction, leads to a further erosion of knowledge and skills.

Lindsey shows how high skill level jobs are rewarded, while mid-level jobs are outsourced, further widening the gap. Simply retraining workers or teaching skills isn’t working because it’s not removing the cultural divisions and polarization that permeates the economy; those cultural factors are impeding the success of targeted programs that he espouses. Fueling the
polarization is the resentment of those on the lower end who don’t want to hear that the world has changed and that they need better jobs.

Lindsey’s solutions? To redeem the promise of human capitalism, it is necessary to restore the connection between rising complexity and rising human capital cross the socioeconomic spectrum.
o Maintain growth through policies that encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.
o Reform K-12 education by unleashing competition.
o Step up experiments with early childhood interventions that can compensate for disadvantaged environments.
o Combat social exclusion of low-skilled adults through low-wage job subsidies, changes in disability insurance, and penal reform to reduce mass incarceration.
o Improve higher education by limiting tuition subsidies.
o Reform land use regulation and occupational licensing to facilitate upward mobility.

In this brief, clear, and forthright eBook original, Lindsey shows how economic growth is creating unprecedented levels of human capital—and suggests how the huge benefits of this development can be spread beyond those who are already enjoying its rewards.

Coming in Spring 2013, Princeton University Press will also be publishing an expanded hardcover edition of the book.

‘Blind Spots’ author Max Bazerman discusses the Sandusky trial on WNYC’s The Takeaway

Max Bazerman, co-author of Blind Spots: Why We Fail to Do What’s Right and What to Do about It (along with Ann Tenbrunsel) appeared on WNYC’s The Takeaway to discuss the trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. You can listen to the interview below.

Robert Shiller in the UK

 

Robert Shiller was in the UK during the first week of May to promote his latest book ‘Finance and the Good Society’.  His appearances ranged from an interview on CNBC Europe Squawk Box to videos for The Guardian and Economia as well as lectures at the Royal Society of Arts and the London School of Economics.

Please follow the links to catch up with any of these appearances.

UCLA’s Michael Ross discusses THE OIL CURSE on MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan show

Check out Michael Ross discusses THE OIL CURSE on yesterday’s edition of MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan Show.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy