I mainly rely on the following websites to track upcoming releases of economic data and detailed results:
Trading Economics: provides information for 196 countries, including historical data for more than 300.000 economic indicators, exchange rates, stock market indexes, government bond yields and commodity prices.
Econoday Calendar: provides comprehensive calendar and links to full reports.
MarketWatch’s Economic Calendar: a snapshot overview of economic reports with links to the underlying data.
Institute for Supply Management: provides monthly purchasing and supply reports.
Recommended Reading: *
There are several excellent books out there on the business cycle. My favorite (although it is a bit hefty at 502 pages and is not inexpensive) is Business Cycles: History, Theory and Investment Reality by Lars Tvede.
A bit more concise and affordable is Ahead of the Curve: A Commonsense Guide to Forecasting Business and Market Cycles by Joseph Ellis. Ellis explains the economic indicators which he believes are most important for investors in plain English and provides a framework for putting those indicators into context. If you were going to read just one book on the subject, this would probably be the most useful.
Beating the Business Cycle: How to Predict and Profit From Turning Points in the Economy by Lakshman Achuthan and Anirvan Banerji. The authors are the directors of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI), which is the unofficial arbiter of when economies enter and exit recession. While the book certainly discusses the impact of the business cycle on investing, it has a broader theme and is perhaps more geared towards corporate and business decision makers than investors.
The Little Book of Stock Market Cycles, by Jeffrey Hirsch, is not specific to the business cycle, but rather covers a wide ranging collection of patterns which the author has identified in the markets. Some of the patterns provide fascinating food for thought, while I don’t believe there is enough data to substantiate some of the others.
My favorite general book on investing this year is Investing Without Wall Street: The Five Essentials of Financial Freedom by Sheldon Jacobs. Straightforward, but not dumbed-down, this book provides guidance for establishing a disciplined, low-effort, low-risk investing strategy which beats the average Wall Street professional similar to the approach which I take.
Benjamin Graham was Warren Buffett’s mentor and the creator of many of the philosophies of modern investing. His most famous book is The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel (Revised Edition) (Collins Business Essentials).
An excellent big-picture overview of investing strategy is The Most Important Thing Illuminated: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor by Howard Marks. Marks is the chairman and cofounder of Oaktree Capital Management and anticipation for his client notes has almost reached the level of Warren Buffett’s annual letter to shareholders. Buffett himself is a fan, saying “When I see memos from Howard Marks in my mail, they’re the first thing I open and read. I always learn something, and that goes double for his book.”
One of the classic books on investing is A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton G. Malkiel, an Economics professor at Princeton. This book really gets you thinking, and has shaped many of my investing strategies.
The best book for you to read before you venture into picking individual stock is One Up on Wall Street by Peter Lynch. The legendary mutual-fund manager describes how to identify investment opportunities in everyday life, then how to review the company’s financial statements to decide if the company is a sound investment.
Efficiently Inefficient: How Smart Money Invests and Market Prices Are Determined, by Lasse Heje Pedersen. This is not a Suze Orman ‘investing-made-simple’ type of book, but neither is it outside the range of individual investors. Pedersen breaks down how investment advisers and hedge fund managers make investment decisions in an attempt to outperform the market. This should not be the first book you read on investing, and there are large sections of it which discuss trading strategies I don’t have any interest in or access to, but it is a fascinating read if you are interested in how finance, economics and investing come together for some of the world’s most successful money managers.
The book I recommend for those who want to develop the characteristics and habits of “normal” millionaires (as opposed to celebrities), is The Millionaire Next Door. The authors summarize findings from their academic research detailing fundamental qualities of this group, including living below their means, allocating funds efficiently, avoiding conspicuous consumption, and choosing the “right” occupation.
And for those who are looking for information specific to international investing, the only book on the subject which I can remember being impressed with is Own the Globe: How Smart Investors Create Global Portfolios, by Aaron Anderson.
Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security: Bad decisions about which Social Security benefits to apply for cost some individual retirees tens of thousands of dollars in lost income every year. The authors explain Social Security benefits in an easy to understand and user-friendly style. Particularly timely as Congress has been monkeying around with file-and-suspend in the most recent budget deal and that tactic will disappear in 2016.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. This is a book about adopting a more disciplined way of thinking, minimizing distraction, and focusing on the things which are important to you and your goals.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business: this one is on the personal development side of the house, but is a great read and much better than the typical self-help nonsense in books about habit forming.
* Please note that these links to Amazon are affiliate links and if you buy a book after clicking on it here, the Thrift Savings Plan Allocation Guide will receive a tiny percentage of the price (which I will put to good use defraying website expenses). The price for you is the same whether you go through this site or directly to Amazon.
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