MunicipalBonds.com has posted an excellent tutorial on the yield curve: Ultimate Guide To Understanding The Yield Curve – MunicipalBonds.com.
Economic Data Archive
Using the EIA’s Weekly Petroleum Status Report, I prepared a seasonally-adjusted chart of U.S. gasoline consumption. Note: This chart includes exports in consumption. U.S. gasoline exports have tripled in the past two years but still amount to less than 10% of consumption.
As you can see, after seasonal adjustment, there has been a strong downtrend. It could change direction at any time, but there is little sign of slowing or reversal just yet.
Note: This model (based on STL) is designed for making robust short-term predictions. As you can read in the article on my last attempt at modeling this series, the model retroactively adjusts the curve in the past. This facilitates seasonal adjustment, but the tail end of the curve is less accurate than the middle of it. If you want short-term projections, this model should easily defeat the more commonly used X-12 ARIMA seasonal adjustment model most of the time. Most U.S. government bureaus use X-12 ARIMA for seasonal adjustment. A notable exception is the CBO, which often uses STL.
A January 4 article from the New York Fed’s blog, Liberty Street Economics, suggests that Internet search statistics can be used as coincident indicators, demonstrating correlations between keyword search frequency and time-lagged economics data releases. The authors also suggest that Internet search statistics may be useful leading indicators for the movements of financial markets in the presence of language barriers or other impediments to efficient information aggregation.
On his excellent blog, Pragmatic Capitalism, Cullen Roche regularly features charts of data drawn from the AAR Weekly Rail Traffic Summary. At the present time, Roche does not see a recession on the immediate horizon. I didn’t see a chart in the most recent edition of Roche’s coverage of the rail data, but much of the AAR weekly summary data can be easily extracted from their PDF reports using simple text-processing tools.
Read more at Pragmatic Capitalism: RAIL TRAFFIC SHOWS CONTINUED ECONOMIC EXPANSION | PRAGMATIC CAPITALISM.
I recently ran across several data directories. This is not a complete list, but it does cover some of the major ones:
- Government Data Directories
- Eurostat – Statistical and economics data on the Euro area countries.
- Data.gov – An Obama administration initiative to unify the federal government’s published data. There is quite a bit of government data here, along with information on its format and other metadata, but it doesn’t have everything. Still, it’s worth checking out.
- FedStats – while there is no data on this site, it does link together scores of the major U.S. government data providers. A great starting point for finding U.S. government data.
- Commercial Data Directories
- Infochimps Data Marketplace – Infochimps bills itself as the “Amazon of data.” I wouldn’t go that far, but they have been around for a while and do have some valuable data sets, and it is worth taking a look if you are thinking of selling data.
- Factual – This is the Amazon of data.
- Economagic – An extensive directory of datasets, with charting capabilities and data downloads. It is easy to use and puts the data right at your fingertips.
- EconData.net – An extensive set of links to economics data sites.
- Central Bank Data Directories
- People’s Bank of China Statistics – The site is mostly in Chinese, and there isn’t a whole lot of data here. If you are aware of a better source for Chinese economics data, please let me know.
- Federal Reserve Economic Data – This is a fantastic resource which is heavily used by economists. It contains thousands of time series covering numerous aspects of national and regional economics, searchable, linked and organized into folders. The data is updated relatively quickly (usually the day following its release).
- European Central Bank Statistical Data Warehouse – This site provides a top-down view of datasets covering various aspects the economies of countries in the Euro area.
- NGO Data Directories
- World Bank Open Data – a good resource with numerous time series covering every major country. Most of the data is updated relatively infrequently.
- Bank for International Settlements Statistics – Contains data on credit default swaps, international trade, debt and other topics.
- International Monetary Fund Data and Statistics – Information on exchange rates and other information maintained by the International Monetary Fund.
- World Trade Organization Statistics Database – Information on commodities prices, exchange rates, trade volume, trade restrictions and other aspects of international trade.
- Educational and Nonprofit Data Directories
- B&E DataLinks – An excellent data link directory maintained by the Business & Economics Section of the American Statistical Association. You can search for links on economics data, add new links and even–get this–view user ratings of data links. It’s a great resource.
I found a collection of free daily historical data covering sundry topics at Pi Trading.
They also have some technical analysis tools, covering “volatility bands” (Bollinger bands) and “pivot points,” which are apparently used for day trading. I think most traders are familiar with Bollinger bands, but I’m going to have to look into pivot points to get an idea of how they are calculated.
Pi Trading also offers programming services and sells one-minute data for various stocks and commodities. They also offer trading systems. I don’t know anything about the quality of their products, but the prices look fairly reasonable.
Infochimps bills itself as the “Amazon of data.” They permit buying, selling and sharing all varieties of data. I’ve been thinking about putting together a data directory (more like the Yahoo! of data), and frankly, I’m not terribly impressed with Infochimps’ selection or their organization, but they do have some interesting data sets available. It’s worth taking a look.
Interesting article here from Clive Thompson at Wired on how open data can create jobs. I’m not strongly convinced that open data creates significantly more jobs, but I like open data.
ceteris paribus – latin, “All else being equal.”
ceteris parabis – latin, “You will prepare for the others.”
Though not as comprehensive as similar leading indicators available from the DOE and DOT, the Ceridian-UCLA PCI is released earlier. A convenient spreadsheet download is available.
The National Venture Capital Association has reported that Q1 2010 was the slowest opening quarter in venture capital fundraising since 1993.