If economics is the "dismal science", I have a perfect countercyclical case study that might help you identify future crises. It's called the "Whitfield property barometer", and serious economists need to include it in their modelling. This column warned in January that 2017 was going to be a rough year economically. That forecast was based only on the fact that when the Whitfield household embarks on significant capital expenditure, economic calamity follows. We bought our first home just before the dotcom bubble burst, the second just before 9/11, and have timed upgrades to coincide with the global financial crisis. Our most recent major works have been timed perfectly to the current recession, now six days old and counting. Recessions are a perfectly normal part of the economic cycle. They can prove a useful inflection point for agile policymakers to rethink how economies are managed. In economics, all policy decisions have a limited life span. The best can boost growth for sever...

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