High-Frequency Indicators of Economic Activity

This course, presented by the IMF’s Statistics Department, will discuss identification and assessment of indicators and techniques for combining indicators into a single overall index of economic activity to track trends in the economy. Flash estimates or indexes of economic activity bring together a range of specific economic indicators to give timely overall measures of economic trends. Such measures give useful additional information to policy makers beyond annual and quarterly GDP estimates (which are more comprehensive but usually only available after substantial lags) and partial monthly and quarterly indicators (which are up-to-the-minute but reflect just a portion of the total economy). This course is oriented toward actual or potential compilers of short-term indicators in central banks and statistical offices as well as those involved in data collection of monthly indicators. Participants are expected to prepare a list of available monthly and quarterly indicators for their country and assemble data. These indicators will be used in the workshop part of the course to develop experimental estimates.

Course Objectives: Upon completion of this course, participants should be able to:

• Explain the nature and potential uses of high frequency statistic on economic activity as well as their relation and consistency within the system of national accounts.

• Develop a simple framework to compile an index of economic activity, from collection of source data to implementation of simple statistical methods and index compilation techniques. 

• Exploit useful short-term information contained in the IEA by applying some analytical tools, deriving tables, and statistical procedures.