Serving the public with innovative research and analysis
Kevin J. Lansing, research advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, stated his views on the current economy and the outlook as of September 10, 2015.
A substantial decline in market-based measures of inflation expectations has raised concerns about low future inflation. An important question to address is whether the forecasts based on market information are as accurate as alternative forecasting methods. Compared against surveys of professional forecasters and other simple constant measurement tools, market-based inflation expectations are poor predictors of future inflation. This suggests that these measures contain little forward-looking information about future inflation.
How reliable are China’s GDP and other data? We address this question by using trading-partner exports to China as an independent measure of its economic activity from 2000-2014. We find that the information content of Chinese GDP improves markedly after 2008. We also consider a number of plausible, non-GDP indicators of economic activity that have been identified as alternative Chinese output measures. We find that activity factors based on the first principal component of sets of indicators are substantially more informative than GDP alone. The index that best matches activity in-sample uses four indicators: electricity, rail freight, an index of raw materials supply, and retail sales. Adding GDP to this group only modestly improves in-sample performance. Moreover, out of sample, a single activity factor without GDP proves the most reliable measure of economic activity.
The personal consumption expenditure price index (PCEPI) is one measure of U.S. inflation. The PCEPI measures the percentage change in prices of goods and services purchased by consumers throughout the economy.
The Tech Pulse Index is an index of coincident indicators of activity in the U.S. information technology sector. It can be interpreted as a summary statistic that tracks the health of the tech sector in a timely manner.
This site presents a real-time, quarterly series on total factor productivity (TFP) for the U.S. business sector, adjusted for variations in factor utilization - labor effort and capital's workweek.
The Wage Rigidity Meter offers a closer examination of the annual wage changes of U.S. workers that have not changed jobs over the year.