iPhone apps for recession watchers that are worth the money

Oct 30, 2009
Finance

If, like me, you are among the more than 15 million unemployed Americans, you’re probably wondering when our economy is going to pull itself out of the gutter. Is there any end in sight? While economists recently have proclaimed the recession officially over, several economy-related iPhone apps offer insight as to whether that’s actually the […]

If, like me, you are among the more than 15 million unemployed Americans, you’re probably wondering when our economy is going to pull itself out of the gutter. Is there any end in sight?

While economists recently have proclaimed the recession officially over, several economy-related iPhone apps offer insight as to whether that’s actually the case. The following apps may not make you feel better, but at least you’ll be better informed.

Economy, a 99 cent app by Cascade Software Corp., lists more than 30 key economic gauges tracked by the U.S. government, as well as foreign exchange rates and export and import data for Canada and Mexico.

One finger tap calls up the most recent monthly or quarterly figures for manufacturers’ orders, unemployment, housing starts, gross domestic product and inflation, among other readings. For old-school economics geeks, there’s even M1 and M2 money supply data that became passé years ago.

A handy charting service allows you to view, for example, the unemployment rate over different periods, from one year to more than 40 years. The charts also have a shading feature that highlights recessionary periods and times when Democrats and Republicans held the White House.

For the latest news, Economy News QuicknEasy RSS, at 99 cents, provides a rundown of the day’s top business and economic stories compiled from the Associated Press, New York Times, Reuters and other sources.

In this visually appealing app, each news item on the opening list is accompanied by the headline, the first sentence of the story and a photo icon on the left. A couple quick taps takes you into the full story on, say, the third-quarter GDP report or ExxonMobil’s latest quarterly earnings. A handy settings tool allows you to turn on or off feeds from 10 different news organizations, including the BBC and Financial Times.

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Think you’ve got a big Mastercard bill? Wait till you check out Inferno, which offers daily updates of the U.S. national debt, currently $11.9 trillion and counting. The free app, from Clarus Mobile, also lists quarterly U.S. GDP data.

According to the developer, future versions of Inferno will include more information sources, such as “bailout” spending totals and charts to map economic trends over time.

Industrial commodities such as oil and natural gas are often good leading indicators of the economy’s path, which makes Black Gold – Oil, Gas and Gold Price Tracking worth a look.

The free app, from Toughturtle, displays recent quotes on oil, natural gas and heating oil futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange, as well as retail gasoline and gold prices. A charting feature provides oil prices over the past month, quarter, year or five years.

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Bruce Blythe

Bruce Blythe is a Chicago-based freelance writer and blogger who's covered business and financial markets for Bloomberg News, Reuters and Dow Jones Newswires, and Crain's Chicago Business.

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