The Retirement Corporation of America

How to Read Those Key Reports

THAT PROBABLY SOUNDS like a lot of high-powered stuff to absorb at one time—everything from orders for durable goods to how we're doing in international trade.

The good news is that most of the work has been done for you already. Economy-watching has become a big-time occupation in the U.S. We're the richest country in the history of the world. We earn more, spend more and invest more than any other nation. Tracking the economy and explaining things in ways that non-economists (including you) can understand has become one of the major growth industries of the day.

Every report that comes out will be covered in the media—newspapers, magazines, radio and TV. Within minutes of each announcement, such outlets as CNBC and CNN will start analyzing and interpreting it. The Wall Street Journal will cover all these economic reports—and many, many more—in great depth. Your hometown newspaper will cover the highlights of the key reports and the stock market column in your newspaper will explain the impact that each report had on the investment markets.

And that's just the start. The weekly news magazines—Time, Newsweek and US News & World Report cover the economy in depth. So do the personal finance publications—Money, SmartMoney, Kiplinger's and more. So do Barron's, Forbes, Fortune, Business Week, etc. And check all your favorite sites on the Internet.

The bottom line is this: You won't have any trouble tracking the ebb and flow of the economy. There is so much economic coverage these days that you won't have to worry about how to find news of the economy. It will find you. The danger isn't knowing too little, but being drowned under too much. Keeping tabs on the economy is no trick at all. Your mission is to keep sharpening your skills as an interpreter of the economy—getting better and better at it, year after year.