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Fourth Quarter 2016, 
Vol. 98, No. 4
Posted 2016-12-05

A Macroeconomic News Index for Constructing Nowcasts of U.S. Real Gross Domestic Product Growth

by Sean P. Grover, Kevin L. Kliesen, and Michael W. McCracken

Analyzing the performance of the economy in real time is a challenge for those who must forecast macroeconomic variables such as inflation or employment. A key aspect of this challenge is evaluating the incoming flow of information contained in economic announcements. In this article, the authors develop a simple-to-read index of these announcements that they then use to construct nowcasts. The index tracks whether key economic data have come in stronger, weaker, or as expected during the current quarter relative to a baseline consensus forecast. Specifically, the data releases are weighted relative to their importance in updating forecasts of real gross domestic product growth during the current quarter.