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Introduction to Unemployment

Unemployment can be a terrible and wrenching life experience—like a serious automobile accident or a messy divorce—whose consequences only someone who has gone through it can fully understand. For unemployed individuals and their families, there is the day-to-day financial stress of not knowing from where the next paycheck is coming.

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Since the end of World War II, the United States has experienced almost continuous inflation— the general rise in the price of goods and services. It would be difficult to find a similar period in American history before that war. Indeed, prior to World War II, the United States often experienced long periods of deflation. It is worth noting that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in 1941 was virtually at the same level as in 1807.

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Because of the importance of understanding the status of the economy today to be able to predict the future, not all indicators need to be leading the economy. This means that not all indicators included in the approach will have strong predictive abilities. But as this is a forecasting approach, the assessment of the different indicators will always point towards their possible implications for the future.

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Figure 1 depicts Model I. Here, we imagine an economy that produces only consumption goods. To keep Model I as simple as possible we further suppose that the only consumption good is cars. These cars are produced by firms which are staffed by the households and owned by the households.

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From using the forecasting method above it should have been possible to predict that the economy would stagnate, and with high likelihood enter a recession, about 1,5 years before the dated recession. Also I argued that forecasters using this method should have been able to predict that the future recession would with high likelihood be of great magnitude at least 6 months before December 2007.