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Author:Brave, Scott A. 

Journal Article
A New “Big Data” Index of U.S. Economic Activity

The authors present a new ?big data? index of U.S. economic activity that can be used to track business and inflation cycles in real time and estimate monthly real gross domestic product growth.
Economic Perspectives , Issue 1 , Pages 1-30

Working Paper
Calibrating Macroprudential Policy to Forecasts of Financial Stability

The introduction of macroprudential responsibilities at central banks and financial regulatory agencies has created a need for new measures of financial stability. While many have been proposed, they usually require further transformation for use by policymakers. We propose a transformation based on transition probabilities between states of high and low financial stability. Forecasts of these state probabilities can then be used within a decision-theoretic framework to address the implementation of a countercyclical capital buffer, a common macroprudential policy. Our policy simulations ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2017-17

Working Paper
Tracking U.S. Consumers in Real Time with a New Weekly Index of Retail Trade

We create a new weekly index of retail trade that accurately predicts the U.S. Census Bureau's Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MRTS). The index's weekly frequency provides an early snapshot of the MRTS and allows for a more granular analysis of the aggregate consumer response to fast-moving events such as the Covid-19 pandemic. To construct the index, we extract the co-movement in weekly data series capturing credit and debit card transactions, foot traffic, gasoline sales, and consumer sentiment. To ensure that the index is representative of aggregate retail spending, we implementa novel ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2021-05

What Can Revisions to the NFCI Tell Us About Stock Market Volatility?

In this blog post, we document that recent revisions to the Chicago Fed’s National Financial Conditions Index (NFCI) have been large and clustered in time—a pattern not seen since the 2007–09 global financial crisis. As financial conditions tightened early on during the Covid-19 outbreak here in the U.S., there were large positive revisions to the NFCI through much of March. We show that revisions of this magnitude and in this direction have often preceded substantial increases in stock market volatility. More recently, in late March and April, the large negative revisions to the NFCI ...
Chicago Fed Insights

Working Paper
Tracking U.S. Consumers in Real Time with a New Weekly Index of Retail Trade

We create a new weekly index of retail trade that accurately predicts the U.S. Census Bureau’s Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MRTS). The index’s weekly frequency provides an early snapshot of the MRTS and allows for a more granular analysis of the aggregate implications of policies implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic. To construct the index, we extract the co-movement in several weekly data series capturing credit & debit card transactions and revenues, mobility, and consumer sentiment as well as monthly retail and food services sales excluding automotive spending (ex. autos) from the ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2021-05

Working Paper
Using the Eye of the Storm to Predict the Wave of Covid-19 UI Claims

We leverage an event-study research design focused on the seven costliest hurricanes to hit the US mainland since 2004 to identify the elasticity of unemployment insurance filings with respect to search intensity. Applying our elasticity estimate to the state-level Google Trends indexes for the topic “unemployment,” we show that out-of-sample forecasts made ahead of the official data releases for March 21 and 28 predicted to a large degree the extent of the Covid-19 related surge in the demand for unemployment insurance. In addition, we provide a robust assessment of the uncertainty ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2020-10

Working Paper
Using the Eye of the Storm to Predict the Wave of Covid-19 UI Claims

We leverage an event-study research design focused on the seven costliest hurricanes to hit the US mainland since 2004 to identify the elasticity of unemployment insurance filings with respect to search intensity. Applying our elasticity estimate to the state-level Google Trends indexes for the topic “unemployment,” we show that out-of-sample forecasts made ahead of the official data releases for March 21 and 28 predicted to a large degree the extent of the Covid-19 related surge in the demand for unemployment insurance. In addition, we provide a robust assessment of the uncertainty ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2020-10

Working Paper
Using the Eye of the Storm to Predict the Wave of Covid-19 UI Claims

We leverage an event-study research design focused on the seven costliest hurricanes to hit the US mainland since 2004 to identify the elasticity of unemployment insurance filings with respect to search intensity. Applying our elasticity estimate to the state-level Google Trends indexes for the topic “unemployment,” we show that out-of-sample forecasts made ahead of the official data releases for March 21 and 28 predicted to a large degree the extent of the Covid-19 related surge in the demand for unemployment insurance. In addition, we provide a robust assessment of the uncertainty ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP 2020-10

Working Paper
The perils of working with Big Data and a SMALL framework you can use to avoid them

The use of “Big Data” to explain fluctuations in the broader economy or guide the business decisions of a firm is now so commonplace that in some instances it has even begun to rival more traditional government statistics and business analytics. Big data sources can very often provide advantages when compared to these more traditional data sources, but with these advantages also comes the potential for pitfalls. We lay out a framework called SMALL that we have developed in order to help interested parties as they navigate the big data minefield. Based on a set of five questions, the SMALL ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2020-35

Newsletter
What Does Labor Market Tightness Tell Us About the End of an Expansion?

We use a model based on the historical relationships between unemployment, inflation, and recessions, along with the Summary of Economic Projections (SEP) from the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC),1 to examine the medium-term implications of current and projected unemployment rates for the U.S. economy. Our model predicts a low probability of a recession in the next two to three years based on SEP forecasts for additional labor market tightening over this horizon.
Chicago Fed Letter

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