FRED’s new forecasting game
On January 20th FRED’s newest data gizmo, FREDcast, is coming out of beta. FREDcast is an interactive forecasting game that allows users to enter forecasts for four different economic variables, track their forecast’s accuracy on the scoreboards, and compete with friends and other users in leagues. The game is designed for all levels of users, from high school students to professional forecasters. Just log-in to FREDcast using your FRED account and walk through the prompts to enter your forecasts for each variable. FREDcast forecasts are zero horizon, meaning users forecast economic data for the month (or quarter) in which they are in. For example, from January 1st to January 20th, users submit forecasts for the January unemployment rate, the January consumer price index (CPI), the January payroll employment, and quarter one real gross domestic product (GDP). Forecasts are due by the 20th of each month, and scores are released as the economic data come out. View exact release dates on FRED’s economic calendar.
The four FREDcast series are available in FRED. Below is a graph of each series in the appropriate units for FREDcast forecasts. All series in FREDcast are seasonally adjusted. From top to bottom: Real gross domestic product (GDP) is the only quarterly series, and the units are the percent change from the preceding period at a seasonally adjusted annual rate. Next is the unemployment rate, which is forecast as a monthly rate. Next are the consumer price index (CPI) and payroll employment. The inflation series used in FREDcast is the percent change in the CPI from one year ago, while payroll employment is the level change from the prior month measured in persons.
How these graphs were created: GDP: Search for real gross domestic product, and graph the series with the units “Percent Change from Preceding Period, Quarterly, Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate.” Set the start date to 2006-07-01, and follow this path: Edit Graph > Format > Graph Type > Bar. Unemployment Rate: Search for unemployment rate, and graph the seasonally adjusted civilian unemployment rate. Set the start date to 2006-12-01. CPI: Search for consumer price index, and graph the series “Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers: All Items” with monthly, seasonally adjusted units. Set the start date to 2006-11-01, and follow this path: Edit Graph > Units > Percent Change from Year Ago. Payroll Employment: Search for payroll employment, and graph the series “All Employees: Total Nonfarm Payrolls” in seasonally adjusted units. Set the start date to 2006-12-01, and follow this path: Edit Graph > Units > Change, Thousands of Persons. Last, multiply the series by 1000 to get it in units of persons by entering a*1000 in the formula box and clicking “Apply.”
Suggested by Michael Owyang and Hannah Shell.
View on FRED, series used in this post:
The industrial capacity utilization rate is defined as the percentage of resources already installed or paid for by firms, such as capital and labor, actually used by corporations and factories to produce goods. This rate tends to move along with the business cycle: increasing during expansions, when companies are trying to produce more goods to meet demand, and declining during recessions, when demand for goods declines. And as the graph shows, the historical trend of total capacity utilization has been declining, as has real GDP growth.
Indeed, the average capacity utilization rate between 1967 and 1979 was around 84 percent, it declined to 81 percent between 1980 and 1999, and dropped down further to 77 percent between 2000 and 2016. Similarly, average GDP growth fluctuated around 3.3 percent between 1967 and 1999 and declined to around 1.9 percent in the period between 2000 and 2016.
How this graph was created: Select “Real GDP” from the “At a Glance” menu on the home page. Go to “Edit Graph” and under the “Add Line” panel search for “Capacity Utilization: Total Industry” and add it as a new line to the graph. Then, format Line 2 to be on the right y-axis position and change the line style to dash. Finally, select the desired date range.
Suggested by Maria Arias and Yi Wen.
View on FRED, series used in this post: