When trying to figure out the global economy, everyone of course looks at the latest government figures.
How's employment? What about inflation? What's the health of consumer spending? How's the manufacturing sector doing?
And for each of those key questions — no matter the country — there's a government report, pulled together by teams of brainy economists and analysts, that can clue you in on what's happening out there from Des Moines to Dhaka.
Global companies — which are out there every day trying to sell stuff to people all over the world — often have the most interesting things to say.
That truth is on full display in this great Business Insider slideshow, which pulls together some of the latest comments on the global economy.
The insights are taken from corporate filings or earnings calls, as some of the biggest companies in the world report their latest (mostly strong, incidentally) quarterly earnings.
Here's a quick sample from the Business Insider piece:
Caterpillar doesn't expect further monetary policy tightening in China
"China's economy averaged 9.4 percent growth in the first three quarters of 2011, and we expect past policy tightening will slow full-year growth to 9.3 percent. Inflation appears to have peaked, and liquidity growth has slowed to a rate consistent with past easing. We expect no further policy tightening this year."
United Parcel Service confirmed Asian exports are slowing
"UPS produced another solid quarter of earnings growth against the backdrop of a deceleration in exports from Asia and a challenging global economic environment."
Owens Corning believes the housing market is bottoming
"We said today on the call that based on what we are seeing in terms of slow improvement in housing, but some of the nice, underlying foundations of housing maybe starting to round into a little bit better form, as well as at least projections of slow but sustained global growth, that we are well-positioned for our businesses to head into 2012; produce another year of earnings growth; and continue to make progress against those 2013 goals that we laid out."
Whirlpool says deterioration in Europe and slowing in emerging markets is worse than expected
"July, consumer confidence in the U.S. has declined and is now at its lowest level since March of 2009. Demand is also falling off sharply in parts of Europe and slowed in emerging markets. So given this economic environment, we've taken significant actions to substantially reduce our cost and capacity, which will improve our operating margins and profitability."
The rest of these individual corporate insights are fascinating, too.
Of course, each comes from a narrow perspective. But, taken together, they tell an interesting and more complete story about the global economy than merely following the latest rounds of scheduled government stats.
For more from Thomas Mucha on Twitter: Follow @thomaswmucha