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Electronic Transactions as High-Frequency Indicators of Economic Activity

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  • John W. Galbraith
  • Greg Tkacz

Abstract

Since the advent of standard national accounts data over 60 years ago, economists have traditionally relied on monthly or quarterly data supplied by central statistical agencies for macroeconomic modelling and forecasting. However, technological advances of the past several years have resulted in new high-frequency data sources that could potentially provide more accurate and timely information on the current level of economic activity. In this paper we explore the usefulness of electronic transactions as real-time indicators of economic activity, using Canadian debit card data as an example. These data have the advantages of daily availability and the high market penetration of debit cards. We find that (i) household transactions vary greatly according to the day of the week, peaking every Friday and falling every Sunday; (ii) debit card data can help lower consensus forecast errors for GDP and consumption (especially non-durable) growth; (iii) debit card transactions are correlated with Statistics Canada’s revisions to GDP; (iv) high-frequency analyses of transactions around extreme events are possible, and in particular we are able to analyze expenditure patterns around the September 11 terrorist attacks and the August 2003 electrical blackout.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Bank of Canada in its series Working Papers with number 07-58.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bca:bocawp:07-58

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Keywords: Business fluctuations and cycles;

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  1. Stock, J.H. & Watson, M.W., 1989. "New Indexes Of Coincident And Leading Economic Indicators," Papers 178d, Harvard - J.F. Kennedy School of Government.
  2. Silver, Mick & Heravi, Saeed, 2002. "A failure in the measurement of inflation: results from a hedonic and matched experiment using scanner data," Working Paper Series 0144, European Central Bank.
  3. S. Boragan Aruoba & Francis X. Diebold & Chiara Scotti, 2008. "Real-time measurement of business conditions," Working Papers 08-19, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  4. Athanasios Orphanides, 2001. "Monetary Policy Rules Based on Real-Time Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 964-985, September.
  5. Peter E. Rossi & Judith A. Chevalier & Anil K. Kashyap, 2002. "Why Don't Prices Rise During Periods of Peak Demand? Evidence from Scanner Data," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm291, Yale School of Management.
  6. Ron Borzekowski & K. Kiser Elizabeth & Ahmed Shaista, 2008. "Consumers' Use of Debit Cards: Patterns, Preferences, and Price Response," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 40(1), pages 149-172, 02.
  7. Jerry Hausman & Ephraim Leibtag, 2004. "CPI Bias from Supercenters: Does the BLS Know that Wal-Mart Exists?," NBER Working Papers 10712, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Ariel Burstein & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 2004. "Large Devaluations and the Real Exchange Rate," NBER Working Papers 10986, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. David Humphrey & Lawrence Pulley & Jukka Vesala, 2000. "The Check's in the Mail: Why the United States Lags in the Adoption of Cost-Saving Electronic Payments," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 17-39, February.
  10. Luis C. Nunes, 2005. "Nowcasting quarterly GDP growth in a monthly coincident indicator model," Journal of Forecasting, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(8), pages 575-592.
  11. Geoffrey R. Gerdes & Jack K. Walton II & May X. Liu & Darrel W. Parke, 2005. "Trends in the use of payment instruments in the United States," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Spr, pages 180-201.
  12. Silver, Mick & Heravi, Saeed, 2001. "Scanner Data and the Measurement of Inflation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(472), pages F383-404, June.
  13. Croushore, Dean & Stark, Tom, 2001. "A real-time data set for macroeconomists," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 111-130, November.
  14. Venkatesh Shankar & Ruth N. Bolton, 2004. "An Empirical Analysis of Determinants of Retailer Pricing Strategy," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 23(1), pages 28-49, May.
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Cited by:
  1. S. Boragan Aruoba & Francis X. Diebold & Chiara Scotti, 2007. "Real-Time Measurement of Business Conditions," PIER Working Paper Archive 07-028, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  2. S. Boragan Aruoba & Francis X. Diebold & Chiara Scotti, 2007. "Real-Time Measurement of Business Conditions, Second Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 08-011, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 04 Apr 2008.

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