Monday, April 18, 2016

On the Real-Time GDP War

A few days ago the WSJ did an interesting piece, Fed Banks Spar Over GDP Data, highlighting that the "race to provide credible real-time data on U.S. economic growth is pitting the Federal Reserve Bank of New York against its sibling in Atlanta."

In all this, real-time data on "economic growth" is interpreted as real-time data on GDP growth.

In my opinion, all of the real-time GDP products basically reflect a misguided perspective if the goal is real-time tracking of economic growth (which is as it should be, and what is claimed). If you want to track real-time growth, you should be tracking an extraction of a broad dynamic factor, effectively averaging over many indicators, not just tracking real-time GDP. That has been the leading and invaluable perspective from Burns and Mitchell straight through to modern dynamic-factor approaches.  My favorite, of course, is the FRB Philadelphia's ADS Index, but there are many others.