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The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is the center of the Eighth District of the Federal Reserve System. This District includes Arkansas, eastern Missouri, southern Illinois and Indiana, western Kentucky and Tennessee, and northern Mississippi.

FRED

Whither the workers? : How the working-age population affects productive capacity

[embedded content] One way to measure the productive capacity of a country is to look at its working-age population. Members of this group are most likely to be available for productive employment that can sustain a country’s economic growth. The age range is generally considered to be 15 to 64, although some statistics start later. The graph above shows this population for the United States, Canada, and Japan. Japan stands out in this trio: Its working-age population has been declining...

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A lesson in measuring the federal debt : The many ways to calculate how much the U.S. federal government owes

[embedded content] What’s the debt level of the U.S. federal government? The answer isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. A quick search on FRED for “federal debt” delivers the graph above, which shows the total level of the federal debt, in millions of dollars, at a quarterly frequency since first quarter 1966. The latest figure, as of the writing of this post, corresponds to second quarter 2019 and amounts to over $22 trillion. We can also express the federal debt as a percentage...

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Back and forth between buying and building houses : What’s behind two different responses in the housing market?

[embedded content] Monetary policy affects interest rates, which affect mortgages, which affect decisions in the housing market. That may be easy to understand, but the housing data may not have such clear-cut patterns. Let’s see what FRED has to show us. The red line in the graph is the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (right axis) from the early 1970s to 2019. The blue line in the graph is the ratio of housing starts built by contractors over housing starts built by owners (left...

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Take note: FRED has updated some series names

The FRED Team has just automated the process of how it names many of its data series. Because FRED aggregates data from 89 different sources, choosing the right name for any of the 627,000 data series is no small matter. Yes, the Bard wrote “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But in the world of data, a confounding name can be a thorny problem. Let’s choose a common example. The data series for the unemployment rate in the U.S. is collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics...

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Where is the U.S. growing? : Population growth in metropolitan statistical areas

View on GeoFRED® If you’ve looked at FRED data, you’ve probably seen the term MSA, which is “metropolitan statistical area,” which the Census defines as “a core area containing a substantial population nucleus, together with adjacent communities having a high degree of economic and social integration with that core.” It’s that high degree of economic integration that can make MSAs more comprehensive and relevant than just the specific governmental boundaries of cities and counties. In...

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Living in an uncertain world : More uncertainty data in FRED

View on GeoFRED® We’ve recently looked at different ways to measure uncertainty in the U.S. economy. Today, we look at international data on economic and policy uncertainty. While U.S.-level data were measured by looking at what newspapers report, the international data are based on quarterly reports from the Economist Intelligence Unit in each country. Having a single source for each country means one must be careful in interpreting the data: It contains quite a bit of noise, and there...

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The national growth quilt : GDP growth for each U.S. county

View on GeoFRED® What’s new from the Bureau of Economic Analysis? Real GDP data at the county level, which is now part of FRED’s ever-growing database. The data shown here are for 2015 and are still considered “beta”; but visit FRED in December and the data will be even more definitive. The map above shows GDP growth for each county across the U.S. It looks like a patchwork quilt. Clearly, high and low and middle-ground growth rates are sprinkled across the nation, with very little...

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The economics behind the motivation to migrate : Income gaps and inequality in the U.S. and Central America’s Northern Triangle

[embedded content] In the past two years, the surge in undocumented immigrants from Central America’s Northern Triangle has been covered extensively by most news outlets. The stories of these migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras involve compelling and often perilous human experiences and intense reactions to the issues involved. Apart from the political and social views about immigration, there are fundamental questions to ask that may have some economic answers: What is...

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Chile’s been hot, politically and economically : Comparing growth and equality in South America

[embedded content] If you’ve followed the evolution of Latin America for the past 25 or 30 years, you might be shocked by the recent unrest in Chile: The country’s economic growth has been stunning and widely seen as a harbinger of growth and development for all of Latin America, a region that has underperformed for many years. Chile’s growth is also touted as a confirmation that the openness and liberalization advocated by the “Washington Consensus” was the right prescription for the...

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The rich borrow, too : Liability distribution across rich and poor households

[embedded content] Over the past  few  weeks, we’ve used data from a dataset compiled by the Federal Reserve Board specifically to analyze the distribution of data across households. While our target so far has been assets, today we look at liabilities. How do rich and poor households borrow? The graph above shows the total liabilities of four wealth classes: the top 1%, the next 9%, the next 40%, and the bottom 50%. At first glance, it appears that richer households hold less in...

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