Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What You Need to Know About FRED

WaPo writes:
FRED stands for Federal Reserve Economic Data. It serves as an online clearinghouse for a wealth of numbers: unemployment rates, prices of goods, GDP and CPI, things common and obscure. Today, FRED is more than a little bit famous, thanks to the public’s fascination with economic data.
[Keith] Taylor runs FRED from a high-walled cubicle tucked inside the St. Louis Fed, a few blocks from the Gateway Arch. He leads a team of five, a small group considering this regional Fed branch employs more than 1,000 people.
In 1991, the St. Louis Fed launched an electronic bulletin board for sharing economic data. The project’s name, picked from office submissions: FRED. The site contained just 30 data series. But immediately it found an audience. Two new phones lines had to be installed for the dial-up modem. A year later, FRED held 300 data series. By 2013, that number had leapt to 64,000. Now, FRED has data from 67 different sources with more than 217,000 series.

The St. Louis Fed is coy about FRED’s traffic stats, saying only that growth has been “exponential” and is used today by millions each year. Clearly, something is happening: The site is Google’s and Yahoo’s top search result for the name “fred.”
The full story is here.
Note well, I consider the St Louis Fed part of the government that's a major strike against it. And a lot data can be dangerous just because it is collected and, thus, can be a point of focus. I'm thinking numbers like GDP and foreign trade data. That said, there is a lot of data that I look at regularly on FRED, including money supply growth numbers, interest rate trends and price indexes.


1 comment:

  1. $619 billion missed from federal transparency site

    WASHINGTON — A government website intended to make federal spending more transparent was missing at least $619 billion from 302 federal programs, a government audit has found.

    And the data that does exist is wildly inaccurate, according to the Government Accountability Office, which looked at 2012 spending data. Only 2% to 7% of spending data on USASpending.gov is "fully consistent with agencies' records," according to the report.

    Among the data missing from the 6-year-old federal website:

    • The Department of Health and Human Services failed to report nearly $544 billion, mostly in direct assistance programs like Medicare. The department admitted that it should have reported aggregate numbers of spending on those programs.

    • The Department of the Interior did not report spending for 163 of its 265 assistance programs because, the department said, its accounting systems were not compatible with the data formats required by USASpending.gov. The result: $5.3 billion in spending missing from the website.

    • The White House itself failed to report any of the programs it's directly responsible for. At the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is part of the White House, officials said they thought HHS was responsible for reporting their spending.

    For more than 22% of federal awards, the spending website literally doesn't know where the money went. The "place of performance" of federal contracts was most likely to be wrong.


    Sed, quis custodiet ipsos custodes?