Did the West Coast Port Dispute Contribute to the First-Quarter GDP Slowdown?
The decline in U.S. GDP of 0.2 percent in the first quarter of 2015 was much larger than market analysts expected, with net exports subtracting a staggering 1.9 percentage points (seasonally adjusted annualized rate). A range of factors is being discussed in policy circles to try to understand what contributed to this decline. Factors such as the strong U.S. dollar and weak foreign demand are usually incorporated in forecasters' models. However, the effects of unusual events such as extremely cold weather and labor disputes are more difficult to quantify in standard models. In this post, we ...
The Effect of the Strong Dollar on U.S. Growth
The recent strengthening of the U.S. dollar has raised concerns about its impact on U.S. GDP growth. The U.S. dollar has appreciated around 12 percent since mid-2014, rising against almost all of our trading partners, with the largest gains against Japan, Mexico, Canada, and the euro area. There was far less movement against newly industrial Asian economies and hardly any change against China. In this blog, we ask how the strength of the dollar affects U.S. GDP growth. Although the dollar can impact the U.S. growth through a number of different channels, we focus on the direct impact through ...
Newer need not be better: evaluating the Penn World Tables and the World Development Indicators using nighttime lights
Nighttime lights data are a measure of economic activity whose measurement error is plausibly independent of the errors of most conventional indicators. Therefore, we can use nighttime lights as an independent benchmark to assess existing measures of economic activity (Pinkovskiy and Sala-i-Martin 2016). We employ this insight to find out which vintages of the Penn World Tables (PWT) and of the World Development Indicators (WDI) better estimate true income per capita. We find that revisions of the PWT do not necessarily dominate their predecessors in terms of explaining nighttime lights (and ...
Is Chinese Growth Overstated?
For analysts of the Chinese economy, questions about the accuracy of the country?s official GDP data are a frequent source of angst, leading many to seek guidance from alternative indicators. These nonofficial gauges often suggest Beijing?s growth figures are exaggerated, but that conclusion is not supported by our analysis, which draws upon satellite measurements of the intensity of China?s nighttime light emissions?a good proxy for GDP growth that is presumably not subject to whatever measurement errors may affect the country?s official economic statistics.
Monitoring Economic Conditions during a Government Shutdown
The recent partial shutdown of the federal government has disrupted publication schedules for many U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) data releases. Most notably, the release of GDP for the fourth quarter of 2018?originally scheduled for January 30?has been postponed indefinitely. Even without the full slate of Census Bureau and BEA releases, forecasters have continued to make predictions for 2018:Q4 GDP growth; as of February 1, the New York Fed Staff Nowcast stands at 2.6 percent, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow stands at 2.5 percent, and the Blue Chip Financial Forecasts ...
Firm-Level Shocks and GDP Growth: The Case of Boeing’s 737 MAX Production Pause
Large firms play an integral role in aggregate economic activity owing to their size and production linkages. Events specific to these large firms can thus have significant effects on the macroeconomy. Quantifying these effects is tricky, however, given the complexity of the production process and the difficulty in identifying firm-level events. The recent pause in Boeing’s 737 MAX production is a striking example of such an event or “shock” to a large firm. This post applies a basic framework that is grounded in economic theory to provide a back-of-the envelope calculation of how the ...
IL Wesleyan University Associates Business Luncheon
Remarks for the IL Wesleyan University Associates Business Luncheon, May 14, 2010 Bloomington, IN
Global tax policy and the synchronization of business cycles
Using a 30-year panel of quarterly GDP ?uctuations from of a broad set of countries, we demonstrate that the signing of a bilateral tax treaty increases the comovement of treaty partners' business cycles by 1/2 a standard deviation. This e?ect of ?scal policy is as large as the e?ect of trade linkages on comovement, and stronger than the e?ects of several other common ?nancial and investment linkages. We also show that bilateral tax treaties increase comovement in shocks to nations? GDP trends, demonstrating the permanent e?ects of coordination on ?scal policy rules. We estimate trend and ...
Measurement Error in Macroeconomic Data and Economics Research: Data Revisions, Gross Domestic Product, and Gross Domestic Income
We analyze the effect of measurement error in macroeconomic data on economics research using two features of the estimates of latent US output produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). First, we use the fact that the BEA publishes two theoretically identical estimates of latent US output that only differ due to measurement error: the more well-known gross domestic product (GDP), which the BEA constructs using expenditure data, and gross domestic income (GDI), which the BEA constructs using income data. Second, we use BEA revisions to previously published releases of GDP and GDI. ...
The Effect of Weather on First-Quarter GDP
In a pattern similar to that of the previous year, the U.S. economy appeared to slow down this past winter. The Bureau of Economic Analysis currently estimates that gross domestic product (GDP) grew at 0.6% (at an annualized rate) in the first quarter of 2015. And as in the previous year, harsh winter weather has been cited by some observers as being responsible for the slowdown. However, there is substantial disagreement on the impact of weather on economic activity.