Business Measurements: Production, Building, and Imports
The subject matter of this chapter, "business measurements," embraces various business indexes considered as means for measuring business levels and trends. It is vital to the forecaster to know how to measure business trends. One of the bases of sound forecasting lies in a knowledge of the indexes of business. And that means that one must know not only what indexes are available, but also something about their history and significance and a great deal about their values and their limitations or weaknesses. The essence of scientific forecasting may be found in these three things: first, accurate measurement of business conditions and trends as we see them around us; second, a knowledge of past conditions and trends so that we may be able to make intelligent comparisons; and, third, an ability to combine the various measurements and establish significant relationships among them, which can be done only on the basis of accurate knowledge.
Doubtless we are now suffering somewhat from a mass of ill-digested statistical data. It might be well to cease calling for more statistics and to give more attention to the problem of perfecting, coördinating, and interpreting what we have. The average business man would do well to stick to a few carefully selected and well-understood statistics.
There are two extremes, two dangers. The first is that one may be acquainted with a great mass of facts about business and be unable to rise above them and to generalize; sometimes we cannot see the trends for the statistics. The second is that one may know only a part of the facts bearing upon the condition of business and that these may be consciously or un-