What's the jobless report this week? And what about non-farm payroll jobs for July?
What's the latest number on retail sales? Did it beat expectations?
What's the Fed's Beige Book saying right now?
What's the latest quarterly GDP number, and was it revised from the previous quarter?
Quick — what's the industrial production and capacity utilization of US factories over the past six months?
Like an especially cruel version of Chinese water torture, these economic numbers drip, drip, drip as economists, managers, entrepreneurs, politicians, and others pore over each point.
And this is just one economy, in one country.
That's why it's so refreshing every once and awhile to read an economic report like this one.
In other words, it's nice to see something simple that puts the US and global economies into their proper perspectives.
Here's the big idea from IHS Global Insight in its report titled "Outlook — Gross Metropolitan Product, and Critical Role of Transportation Infrastructure," which does us all the public service of comparing the size of US metropolitan economies with those of countries around the world.
The US is a collection of these giant economic engines — think interconnected metro areas like Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, or San Francisco-Oakland-Freemont.
"Metropolitan economies are beacons for economic activity — as home to the majority of the population and clusters of industry and infrastructure, they are the breeding grounds for economic progress and innovation," the report states. "Since the end of the Great Recession, metro economies have been responsible for the majority of our employment and real GDP growth, and they will be vitally important to the nation's continued economic health."
And, yes, these metro economies are big.
When looking at the 100 biggest economies in the world, in fact, 37 are metropolitan areas in the US.
Here's how IHS Global Insight tallies their impact on a global scale:
"The three largest metropolitan economies (New York, Los Angeles and Chicago) produce more than such countries as Poland, Belgium, Sweden, and Taiwan, to name a few. New York ranks as the 14th largest economy in the world, ahead of Mexico and South Korea, which have GDPs in excess of $1 trillion. Los Angeles ranks 20th and Chicago 23rd. Washington DC ranks as the 31st largest economy, above Austria, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates, while Philadelphia takes the 37th position and produces more than Thailand, Denmark, Colombia, and Venezuela. Oklahoma City is the 116th largest gross producer, with output higher than Luxembourg and Belarus; Tulsa captures the 133rd spot, producing more than Tunisia, Serbia, Costa Rica, and Lithuania."
It's compelling stuff.
It's also a reminder that, while things may not look so hot at the moment, there is still plenty of economic action happening out there in America, god bless it.