When weather forecasts are inaccurate, we can usually change our plans with little consequence in the greater scheme of things. When economic forecasts are inaccurate, however, the consequences may be more significant. While making financial decisions does involve some guesswork, an educated guess—even with elements of uncertainty—may be better than making a decision with no forecast at all.
By observing your own spending and debt burden, and that of your friends, relatives, and business associates, you may gain some insight into the short-term future of the economy. While by no means the whole story, this small segment comprises a significant chapter since it is the one factor that consumers exercise the greatest control over. When combined with a little judicious Fed watching (e.g., several interest-rate moves in the same direction may be an indication that the Fed is on a mission), you may have a fairly good basis for general economic forecasting and appropriate financial decisions.