People who work with economic data are familiar with the most popular indicators in FRED—the unemployment rate, GDP, interest rates, etc. But FRED contains close to a million data series, each of which can be modified and presented in various ways. Given the sheer size and scope of FRED, it can be difficult to know which other series you should focus on if you want to better understand the current economy. You may ask yourself, “Well, what do economists and policymakers look at—and how do they think about those indicators?”
The St. Louis Fed’s new Macro Snapshot answers these and other questions. The Macro Snapshot is a new portal to the FRED dataverse. It compiles into a single interactive dashboard important economic indicators from FRED—the indicators economists and policymakers at the St. Louis Fed follow when analyzing the current economy.
Graphs on the Macro Snapshot often link to their FRED series and blog posts, where users can learn more about the macroeconomic importance of a given indicator. Indicators are also broken down by topic, allowing users to easily explore and categorize the Macro Snapshot’s select list of series.
The image above shows the top of one Macro Snapshot page, with the following features:
- Pages categorizing series by topic.
- FRED-style buttons and ranges to adjust graphed time periods.
- Graph elements that give additional context to FRED series.
- The ability to hover over points to see corresponding dates and values.
- The ability to click series on and off using legends.
- Captions that explain aspects of the graph, cite data sources, and link to FRED (and other resources as necessary) for more in-depth descriptions.
The data on the Macro Snapshot are updated directly from FRED using its public API, which lets its underlying code pull FRED data automatically. Its content will change as economic conditions evolve or new data are added to FRED. While it does not and cannot contain everything sufficient for understanding the economy or making policy, it is a useful window into the current perspective of economists and policymakers at the St. Louis Fed—and a valuable curation of FRED’s ever-expanding data offerings.
Here’s another link for you to check it out.