This week’s UpstartCity: Economics in a New York Minute

A lot can happen in a New York minute. Time lapse taken at Cooper Square, New York, Sep. 20, 2016. (UpstartCity/Mike Juang)

A New York Minute is often defined as the time between when the light changes at a traffic stop — and when the first horn goes off. It’s an informal measurement that means “promptly,” a quick-and-dirty way to quantify the vague and the incomprehensible.

An economic indicator serves the same purpose. It’s shorthand: an easy way to measure economic performance by looking at everything from cardboard boxes to lipstick.

This week is all the shorthand, what works and what doesn’t. We take you along an immigrant’s journey to look at how the economy shapes immigration. We look at emerging trends like the rise in smartphone ownership and the dawn of the Internet of Things, analyzing how — or even if — they matter.

Traditional indicators like the GDP might not be predictive, and that’s why we give you alternatives. Your local coffeeshop might be a better economic barometer than your money manager. We explain the “Li Keqiang Index,” and why it might be better than the GDP at measuring China’s performance. And we even tell you what dry cleaners might know about the future of the economy!

There are even new ways to play with old data: The ever-popular Big Mac Index can also be used to show the effects of wage increases. Comparing purchases of guns to caviar might make sense — but what about fighter jets to business jets?

This week, UpstartCity is led by Editor-In-Chief Paula Seligson, Managing Editor Mike Juang, Social Media Editor Jane Yi Zhang and Digital Editor Nayla Al-Mamlouk. Our Managing Editor last week was James Thorne. Reach out to us if you want to vent, want to gush or want to give us a tip!

We think you’ll enjoy blazing through the second week of articles as much as we enjoyed writing them, and hope you take some knowledge with you when you’re done. Because we here at UpstartCity think it’s not just about how the data is measured.

It’s what you do with it.