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EC 241 - Intermediate Macroeconomic Analysis

Introduction


This guide ties in with the class assignment to examine the behavior of a macroeconomic variable over the past 30 years and predict its future course. Start your research by obtaining time-series data for your variable and use a spreadsheet program to explore trends over time. Then search the magazine and newspaper databases for articles discussing the variable's recent movement and forecasting future changes. Finally, consult reports from the websites of economic thinktanks and governmental organizations to supplement your analysis.

 


Find Macroeconomic Data


There are several websites where you can download lengthy time series of data for macroeconomic variables. Most provide options for opening or saving the data as either a spreadsheet or comma-delimited text file (.csv), which can be opened in spreadsheet programs such as Microsoft Excel. Use Excel to create graphs and examine dynamics over time. If you want to analyze the relationship between multiple variables (such as the correlation between inflation and unemployment), download both variables and use the statistical analysis tools available in Excel or other programs such as SPSS.

In some cases, there may be more than one data series for your variable. For example, there are several different measures of unemployment, investment, and saving that are tracked by the government. In other cases, some calculation may be required. With inflation, you may need to download a measure of the Consumer Price Index and calculate inflation as the percentage change in CPI between time periods.

Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED)
This online database maintained by the St. Louis branch of the Fed offers over 3,000 time series of U.S. economic data, generally going back several decades. Although many of the variables relate to banking and monetary economics, you can also find historical data for CPI, unemployment, earnings, and other economic indicators. The data can be viewed in charts or downloaded for analysis. Use the Search box to look for relevant variables.

Free Lunch
An easy-to-use website sponsored by Moody's that offers free economic, financial, and demographic data for viewing and downloading. Free registration is required, but the data series are well-formatted for use in spreadsheets.

Bureau of Economic Analysis
This government agency produces interactive tables related to GDP, income, and other variables, with breakdowns by region, metropolitan area and industry that are not available on other websites.

Economic Report of the President
This website offers a List of Statistical Tables, which consists of Excel files containing long time series for many macroeconomic variables. Download the table(s) corresponding to your general subject of interest, in order to find the variables you need.

Historical Statistics of the United States
This comprehensive compendium of statistics provides a quantitative history of the United States, with over 37,000 data series on topics such as health, crime, migration, and the economy. The searchable online version allows you to create customized tables and download data series for processing in a spreadsheet. Data often goes back further in time in this source than in the others, but the most recent few years are generally not available.

LABORSTA
This online database produced by the International Labor Organization (a UN agency) enables you to view and extract time series data on unemployment and price indexes for over 200 countries, dating back through 1969.

World Development Indicators and Global Development Finance
This database from the World Bank contains country-by-country time series data on over 1,000 economic and social indicators, including macroeconomic variables such as GDP, inflation, national debt and savings.

 

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Find Articles


It will be important to consult journal, magazine, and newspaper articles to help you interpret the observed changes in your variable. To look for useful articles, do keyword searching on the name of your variable, and use the Boolean AND to add other keywords such as "trends", "outlook", "patterns", or "forecast". For articles about other countries, add the country's name as a keyword. Since you are likely to find an abundance of articles, you may wish to limit the search on your variable's name to the Title or Abstract field only, so that the variable is an important concept in the article.

Once you run your search, make use of available limiters to narrow your results further. For example, Business Source Premier enables you to narrow your focus to Academic Journals, Trade Publications, or Periodicals (i.e., popular magazines) by clicking on the appropriate link on the left side of the search results screen. If you find a Subject Term corresponding to your macroeconomic variable of interest, click on it to narrow the search to articles focusing on that particular topic.

If there is no link to the full text of the article, click on the WebBridge icon to determine whether the journal is available at Geisel Library or in full-text via another electronic database. If the article isn't available, consider clicking on the Interlibrary Loan link in the WebBridge window to request a PDF copy of the article from another library. Within a week, you should receive an email indicating that the article is available to access.

Business Source Premier
Provides full-text articles and article abstracts for periodicals covering the business world and the economy. Search this database for articles from the trade press, popular magazines like Business Week and Fortune, and scholarly economic journals.

Academic Search Premier
A broad index providing abstracts and some full-text of scholarly and popular journals. Check here for popular magazine articles from beyond the business sphere, such as the weekly and monthly news magazines.

Lexis-Nexis Academic
Find full-text newspaper articles from local and national newspapers, or find articles from special business-oriented publications. Next to Select Sources, choose either "US Newspapers and Wires", "Major World Newspapers", or "Business News Publications". In the results screen, change the Sort to "Relevance" to move the best results to the top.

Wall Street Journal
This database offers full-text access to the Wall Street Journal (Eastern edition) from 1984 through the present. You can do keyword searching within the citations, abstracts or full text of articles.

 

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Selected Websites


In addition to consulting magazines and newspapers, you should also obtain the perspectives of major economic thinktanks, US government agencies, and international organizations.

Thinktanks

Economic thinktanks regularly publish outlooks for the US economy. Reading reports from both conservative and liberal organizations will ensure that you gain a more balanced view of recent developments and expected future trends. The following are some of the most prominent economic thinktanks, based on how often they are cited in the economic literature. Try doing keyword searching in the website's search engine, or check the Publications or Research sections to find discussions of your macroeconomic variable.

Conservative-Leaning Thinktanks

American Enterprise Institute

Cato Institute

Heritage Foundation

Hoover Institution

Liberal-Leaning Thinktanks

Brookings Institution

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Economic Policy Institute

Urban Institute

US Government Agencies

Bureau of Labor Statistics
The BLS is an agency of the US government that produces statistics related to employment, productivity, and inflation (the CPI and PPI). Click the Publications tab to look for bulletins, reports, and chartbooks on your topic.

Congressional Budget Office
The CBO's website includes the economic forecasts used by Congress to assess the impact of legislation. Click on "Economic Projections" to access the latest Budget and Economic Outlook, along with spreadsheets of the underlying data.

Economic Report of the President
Written by the Council of Economic Advisors, this report presents the President's overview and outlook of the US economy, including extensive tables of statistics. Reports available for 1995 through the present.

International Organizations

Country Profiles [found in Business Source Premier]
This database includes annual reports from reputable organizations on each country's economic outlook, including the CountryWatch "Country Reviews" and the Datamonitor "Country Profiles". To access country profiles, click Country Reports, click the All Country Reports tab, and type your country's name into the Browse box.

International Monetary Fund
The IMF produces semi-annual World Economic Outlook Reports which analyze the global economy and present forecasts for both industrialized and developing nations.

OECD Economic Outlook
This biannual publication offers the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's outlook for the world economy, including a discussion of macroeconomic developments in each member country.

Statistical Office of the European Community (Eurostat)
The EU's official statistics website, which offers free publications describing recent economic developments in member countries and in the EU as a whole, including their flagship publication, European Economic Statistics.

Specific Countries

National Statistics Online (United Kingdom)
The official statistics website for the UK. Click on Economy in the menu at left, then click on the More link next to your macroeconomic indicator of interest to see an overview of recent trends and links on the right-hand side to more detailed publications.

Statistics Canada
Canada's official statistical website, with data and reports on recent trends in macroeconomic variables.

 

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Citing Sources


See the library's Citing Sources guide for resources on how to properly cite research materials. Always confirm the style required by your instructor.

 

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Contents

Book cover image for Conversations with Leading Economists

Professor
Amy Schmidt

Library Liaison
Jeff Waller

Contents
Introduction
Find Macroeconomic Data
Find Articles
Selected Websites
Citing Sources

Subject Guide
Economics & Business