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Author:Butters, R. Andrew 

Blog
A Closer Look at the Correlation Between Google Trends and Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims

Since the onset of the pandemic, there has been growing interest in tracking labor market activity with “big data” sources like Google Trends.1 Just as an example, one can track how the number of Google searches with the term unemployment office has changed over the past week for the Chicago metro area or explore how unemployment became one of the top searched issues across the U.S. during the early months of the pandemic here.
Chicago Fed Insights

Working Paper
Gathering insights on the forest from the trees: a new metric for financial conditions

By incorporating the Harvey accumulator into the large approximate dynamic factor framework of Doz et al. (2006), we are able to construct a coincident index of financial conditions from a large unbalanced panel of mixed frequency financial indicators. We relate our financial conditions index, or FCI, to the concept of a "financial crisis" using Markov-switching techniques. After demonstrating the ability of the index to capture "crisis" periods in U.S. financial history, we present several policy-geared threshold rules for the FCI using Receiver Operator Characteristics (ROC) curve analysis.
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2010-07

Working Paper
Forecasting Economic Activity with Mixed Frequency Bayesian VARs

Mixed frequency Bayesian vector autoregressions (MF-BVARs) allow forecasters to incorporate a large number of mixed frequency indicators into forecasts of economic activity. This paper evaluates the forecast performance of MF-BVARs relative to surveys of professional forecasters and investigates the influence of certain specification choices on this performance. We leverage a novel real-time dataset to conduct an out-of-sample forecasting exercise for U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP). MF-BVARs are shown to provide an attractive alternative to surveys of professional forecasters for ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2016-5

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

Journal Article
What is the relationship between large deficits and inflation in industrialized countries?

Examining industrialized countries, the authors find that large deficits are not associated with higher inflation contemporaneously, nor are they associated with the emergence of higher inflation in subsequent years. This finding suggests that countries that can afford large deficits have built solid reputations and institutions supporting a sound monetary policy and the reversion to a stable fiscal regime.
Economic Perspectives , Volume 34 , Issue Q III , Pages 83-100

Journal Article
Preannounced tax cuts and their potential influence on the 2001 recession

The authors present a model in which anticipated future tax cuts, like those promised during the 2000 U.S. presidential campaign, generate a contraction in economic activity with some of the atypical features observed during the 2001 recession (such as its relatively strong consumption and home investment).
Economic Perspectives , Volume 33 , Issue Q III

Newsletter
Estimating the trend rate of economic growth using the CFNAI

This article shows how a new methodology for constructing the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) can be used to identify both the cyclical (medium-run) and trend (long-run) components of real gross domestic product (GDP) growth.
Chicago Fed Letter , Issue June

Journal Article
Monitoring financial stability: a financial conditions index approach

Monitoring financial stability requires an understanding of both how traditional and evolving financial markets relate to each other and how they relate to economic conditions. This article describes two new indexes of financial conditions that aim to quantify these relationships.
Economic Perspectives , Volume 35 , Issue Q I

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

Newsletter
The Stay-at-Home Labor Market: Google Searches, Unemployment Insurance, and Public Health Orders

This article looks at the relationships between internet searches for unemployment-related terms, unemployment insurance (UI), and the public health orders issued in the U.S. during the Covid-19 pandemic. We find that Google searches for unemployment-related subjects surged before the record increase in initial UI claims, which in turn peaked before the public health orders were implemented. As of mid-April 2020, these orders covered the vast majority of the U.S. population. Since then, the rates of increase in both search activity and initial UI claims have slowed.
Chicago Fed Letter , Issue 436

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