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Forecasting private consumption: survey‐based indicators vs. Google trends

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  • Simeon Vosen
  • Torsten Schmidt

Abstract

In this study we introduce a new indicator for private consumption based on search query time series provided by Google Trends. The indicator is based on factors extracted from consumption-related search categories of the Google Trends application Insights for Search. The forecasting performance of the new indicator is assessed relative to the two most common survey‐based indicators: the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index and the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index. The results show that in almost all conducted in‐sample and out‐of‐sample forecasting experiments the Google indicator outperforms the survey‐based indicators. This suggests that incorporating information from Google Trends may offer significant benefits to forecasters of private consumption. Copyright (C) 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Simeon Vosen & Torsten Schmidt, 2011. "Forecasting private consumption: survey‐based indicators vs. Google trends," Journal of Forecasting, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(6), pages 565-578, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:jof:jforec:v:30:y:2011:i:6:p:565-578
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/for.1213
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Nikolaos Askitas & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2009. "Google Econometrics and Unemployment Forecasting," Applied Economics Quarterly (formerly: Konjunkturpolitik), Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 55(2), pages 107-120.
    2. Jason Bram & Sydney Ludvigson, 1998. "Does consumer confidence forecast household expenditure? a sentiment index horse race," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Jun, pages 59-78.
    3. Jeffrey C. Fuhrer, 1993. "What role does consumer sentiment play in the U.S. macroeconomy?," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Jan, pages 32-44.
    4. Croushore, Dean, 2005. "Do consumer-confidence indexes help forecast consumer spending in real time?," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 435-450, December.
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    Keywords

    Google Trends ; private consumption ; forecasting ; consumer sentiment indicators ;

    JEL classification:

    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E27 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications

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