Economists Do It With Models

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On How The Federal Reserve Economic Data, Um, Marched Right Along During The Shutdown…

October 17th, 2013 · 4 Comments
Fun With Data

Like most parents, my parents took me to watch parades when I was little. Probably unlike most parents, however, my parents took me to parades like this:

The Weirdest Parade in the Universe that brought you The Marching Freds, The Synchronize Briefcase Brigade, The Booger King, The Million Chad March, The League of Dead Voters, Cuban Eye for the Gringo Guy, Idu Grab Prison, Weapons of Mass Distraction, Osama Piñata, The Hare Krishnas and the Running of the Bullshitters is strutting for the 30th time!!!

From what I recall, the parade- called the King Mango Strut- was founded by a group that was rejected from the (somewhat more legitimate) King Orange Parade. As it’s name implies, the King Mango Strut is somewhat of a parody of the King Orange Parade and features various forms of satire, political humor that you may or may not get if you don’t live in South Florida, and random stuff that I am not sure what to make of. (My parents keep trying to get me to join MENSA so that I can march with the other intellectual snobs, though partaking in the Running of the Bullshitters is probably more my speed. =P) It’s generally a good time:

But I digress way more than I originally intended to…I brought this up specifically because of the marching Freds referenced above, since the Freds of the marching kind are what immediately come to mind every time somebody mentions the St. Louis Fed’s Federal Reserve Economic Data portal. (FRED- get it?) FRED (you know you’re thinking it too now) is a great resource for academics, students, journalists, and even people who want to check and see whether the talking heads on their televisions are full of crap, and it’s getting some well-deserved praise for being one of the few government data sources that wasn’t locked away during the shutdown:

The fall is a peak season for the site, particularly as economics students turn to FRED for their homework. Traffic in general has been increasingly steadily “for some time now,” a spokesman said. Other peaks are on or around big data releases.

That article also gives some interesting history about how FRED came to be and what exactly it offers. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a number of people who work for the St. Louis Fed, and they’re pretty legit. They even have their own clothing line, and after two or so years of negotiating, I finally managed to trade an Economists Do It With Models t-shirt for a FRED hoodie. (Who ever said the barter system was inefficient? Oh, that’s right, me.)

(In case you’re curious, the hoodie says “got gdp?” on the back. So GDP is the milk of the economy? I guess it sort of works.) Not only am I no longer freezing in my office, but my resident homo-economicus now has some more appropriate attire. My next campaign is to get the St. Louis Fed guys to join the parade of Freds, so stay tuned.

Tags: Fun With Data

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ariel Salvaro // Oct 17, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Love the Fed as hero-of-shutdown story! (insert a good commercial voice): When I needed population data during the shutdown, did I get them from the Census Bureau? No sir, I got them from my Fed, who also referenced them politely back to the Bureau! That’s the beauty of uninterrupted online presence! 😉

  • 2 econgirl // Oct 17, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Who would’ve ever thought that you would be specifically happy that the Federal Reserve system isn’t funded via Congressional appropriations? 🙂

  • 3 Mike // Oct 17, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Can we talk about how more of government should be better insulated from political shenanigans, or is that too far afield?

  • 4 econgirl // Oct 18, 2013 at 1:01 am

    We could, but I will be the first to admit that I don’t claim to have any more insight into such matters than the average idiot on the Internet. 🙂 I’m also not sure how to advance the conversation beyond “government should be better insulated from political shenanigans,” since that statement sort of speaks for itself.

    That said, I will brainstorm what i can dig up from public choice or game theory that might address such issues.

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