Forecasting for Particular Industries
We have seen that such general factors as price levels, interest rates, transportation, and the interrelation among basic industries, to say nothing of business sentiment, all combine to make the general trend of business a real thing. The particular business, however, may move independently of the general-business trend. Some certainly differ from others in their relations to the general-business cycle, perhaps tending to lead in cycle movements while others lag.
Particular industries can be measured more carefully and completely than can general-business conditions. In many cases we can know with satisfactory definiteness the condition of the demand for a particular product and the supply of it. Certainly prices for individual commodities, not being averages of groups, may be known with a high degree of accuracy.
Again, the practical value of forecasts bearing on a particular industry is obvious. A business man engaged in a given line of trade may well doubt the value to him of a forecast made in terms of the business cycle, but a forecast as to the trend of prices for his commodity during the next three or four months may be of the utmost practical value.
Something may even be said in favor of making general- business forecasts on the basis of a summary of forecasts for the particular leading industries.
Probably the iron-and-steel industry is the most basic of all industries; coal, railway transportation, and agriculture are obviously basic, but steel is most fundamental among manufacturing industries, all other industries depending, as they