Technology opens the door to new, real-time ways for measuring economic activity

Satellite collecting data

During perilous economic times―like now―as COVID-induced economic impacts hit hard and fast, quantifying the true effects on the economy in real time is critical. But traditional economic indicators often delay reporting, use out-of-date methodology, and neglect some aspects of the economy. Therefore, policymakers need new ways to assess how a variety of indicators are faring so they may implement effective policy responses as quickly as possible.

Recent advances in economic theory, econometrics, and information technology have fueled research in building broader, more accurate, and higher-frequency economic indicators. A new open access ebook from the Upjohn Press offers an in-depth look at a new set of technologically advanced tools that are now being used by economists to determine the national and worldwide economic implications of, among other things, the COVID-induced recession. In Alternative Economic Indicators, C. James Hueng presents contributions from a group of prominent economists who present alternative economic indicators, including indicators in the financial market, indicators for business cycles, and indicators of economic uncertainty.

The papers in the ebook cover a range of topics that include indexes that measure uncertainty and liquidity in the financial markets, ways of providing real-time estimates of GDP and other measures of business conditions, a dynamic index that shows how uncertainty created by trade policies and other events impacts market volatility, and how emerging technology is opening up satellite imagery as a tool for measuring economic activity.

The papers were originally presented during the 2018-2019 Werner Sichel Lecture Series at Western Michigan University.

Download the book and individual chapters here.