Sunday , September 24 2017
Home / FRED
The author FRED Blog
FRED Blog
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

A precise measure of uncertainty? : The Economic Policy Uncertainty Index tries to quantify unpredictability

[embedded content] FREDcast, FRED’s forecasting game, asks players to forecast four major macroeconomic variables by the 20th of every month. Some players may be frustrated by the erratic behavior of some of these indicators as they attempt to make their guesses. Fair enough. Plenty of other data analysts are in the same boat. Well, a team of researchers has been trying to quantify this sense of uncertainty using the Economic Policy Uncertainty Index, graphed above for the world’s five...

Read More »

How much do we spend on new houses? : The highs and lows in the numbers and values of new construction

[embedded content] Do we spend more on new houses than we used to? It can feel like it, especially because houses have become larger and available land has become more scarce. For a quantitative answer to this question, we can use FRED’s data on the number of new houses being sold across the U.S. and the median value of those houses. Multiplying these two indicators yields the total value of all houses sold in a given period. (Well, at least approximately: The mean would give us a...

Read More »

Take it easy! : The Ease of Doing Business Index ranks regulatory environments around the world

View on GeoFRED® In an increasingly competitive global economy, many in the private sector wonder whether their businesses would be better off if they were located somewhere else. FRED has data that can help shed some light on which countries foster the best business conditions: The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index ranks 190 countries according to a combination of 10 factors, including cross-border trade, tax payment, electricity access, property registration, construction...

Read More »

U.S. car production: right on track : Passenger car production mirrors the pattern of railroad construction, 20 years delayed

The U.S. has always been preoccupied with travel. Lewis and Clark’s 1804-06 expedition revealed that no single waterway spanned the continent, which led Thomas Jefferson to push for a railroad network to connect the east and west coasts. Over the next 80 years, the U.S. experienced its railroad boom. The next 20 years brought about an automobile boom…and the first coast-to-coast journey by car. This post won’t cover travel by canoe, but it will look at railroads and cars. [embedded...

Read More »

Is GDP a good measure of well-being? : Mapping out health and income

View on GeoFRED® GDP has been used as a measure of economic well-being since the 1940s: It measures the total economic output by individuals, businesses, and the government and is a tangible way to quantify the state of the economy. However, some economists have questioned how well GDP measures well-being: For example, GDP fails to account for the quality of goods and services, the depletion of natural resources, and unpaid jobs that are nevertheless important (e.g., household chores)....

Read More »

Labor force participation rates across the OECD : Who’s working depends on where you look

[embedded content] One critical element for the growth of an economy is an active working-age population: Growth can be hampered when (i) the overall population is aging and a larger share of the population is retired or (ii) a larger share of the working-age population simply isn’t working. The graph above shows, for four countries, the share of the population that’s 25 to 54 years of age—i.e., prime working age—with a job. The remainder of that population is either unemployed or not...

Read More »

A healthy appetite for health care? : How supply and demand may affect the costs and consumption of health care services

[embedded content] Health care has improved considerably in the past couple of decades, in terms of both quality and access. Yet, with health care costs on the rise in recent years, it’s also a topic of many heated discussions. Supply factors could be behind the increase in costs for health care services, but would also have a negative impact on their demand. On the other hand, higher demand for health care services would increase both the price and quantity consumed. With FRED’s...

Read More »

Who’s hiring? : Hiring rates differ across economic sectors

[embedded content] As we’ve often discussed on this blog, the U.S. labor market is pretty active, with high turnover. Turnover differs quite a bit across sectors, though. In the graph above, which covers hiring rates, we did something that’s usually not recommended: cramming seven(!) series in a single graph. Yet, FRED’s features still allow us to distinguish what’s happening. Hover over a legend and you’ll see the relevant line light up, making it easier to find. Hover over the graph...

Read More »

Markets in the shadow of the eclipse : Could the solar eclipse affect stock market activity?

[embedded content] Some researchers have studied the possible effects that astronomical and meteorological conditions have on the stock market. So, what should investors do about the total solar eclipse today? First, the bad news: As you’re reading this, it’s already too late to react. Second, the good news: The graph above depicts the weekly returns of the Wilshire Index, with colored vertical lines depicting three annular solar eclipses visible from the U.S. during the sample period....

Read More »

Leaves fall, prices rise : Tracing the timing of school supply price hikes

[embedded content] It’s backpack season, and many Americans are starting a new school year. A recent FRED Blog post covered the impact of seasonality. This post covers education-related data—specifically, the cost of books and supplies. The top graph shows the monthly changes in the price of educational books and supplies over the past ten years, using the consumer price index, which measures inflation by reporting the percent change over time, on average, of a variety of goods and...

Read More »