There’s no shortage of economic data in the 21st century. Perspective, however, isn’t always easy to come by. The digital age is a wonder for dispensing statistics, but the central challenge of digesting the endless reports, surveys, numbers and trends requires assistance.

Fortunately, there are productive tools available for mining intelligence from the river of numerical supply. Here are few worth considering in the struggle to figure what’s really going on with the business cycle.
• The St. Louis Fed offers a useful big picture review of global economic data. You can even choose to receive email updates when new information is posted.
• The Philadelphia Fed publishes several resources for tracking the business cycle in the U.S., including the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti business conditions index and the Livingston Survey, which is reportedly the “oldest continuous survey of economists expectations.”
• If you’re searching for Washington’s economic data du jour, take a look at the Economics and Statistics Administration’s overview site to help parse through the various reports published by Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau.
• For an overview of the U.S. Labor Department’s output, its summary page is a time saver.
• The IMF’s data and statistics resources offer yet another treasure trove of statistical delight for monitoring economic and financial trends around the world.
• Another rich array of economic data on a country-by-country basis is available via the OECD.
• The United Nations also maintains an extensive database on national economic statistics.
Finally, our own analysis includes a monthly look at the major economic measures for the U.S. Each month in The Beta Investment Report, we review the latest numbers in search of perspective on the business cycle. As a sample, here’s an excerpt from the February 2009 issue: