If investors only paid attention to the aggregate data released by the government, CNBC's Jim Cramer would imagine they'd be huge pessimists about the state of the economy.
"This morning we got retail sales numbers that were baffling. They were for the month of August and they fell by 0.2 percent. That's very subpar. Then the Federal Reserve issued an industrial production number that was clearly wanting. It was a 0.9 percent dip," the "Mad Money" host said. "But I've got to ask you a question: do these numbers really tell you the whole story?"
Instead, Cramer turned to business leaders for a more intimate take on the economy. Brad Jacobs, the CEO of XPO Logistics, told Cramer on Thursday that "industrial economy's back" and on the path to recovery.
Caterpillar, a massive manufacturer, announced earlier this week that the economic cycle was picking up, touting its global orders and climbing stock.
Other executives also said that both the industrial and retail sectors are accelerating, bucking the government's statistics that suggest they're more tepid.
"People remain endlessly skeptical that anything good can happen industrially both here [and] around the world. Yet Brixmor, Eaton, XPO Logistics, Caterpillar and United Technologies – a pretty diverse group – paint a very positive picture of what's really going on here," Cramer said. "So don't be baffled by the national retail sales or industrial production numbers. Be skeptical of them. There's a much better story out there if you just bother to look under the hood."