Big data

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc?

On the occasion of the Fed’s Jackson Hole Symposium, the New York Sun published an editorial attacking central banking and fiat money. Let’s get this out of the way at the start: we are big fans of both. In our view, the world is a more stable and prosperous place with central banks than it was without them. And fiat money allows a central bank to stabilize the price of goods and services that would be quite volatile if, instead, we chose to steady the price of gold (the Sun’s apparent favorite). The result is higher growth from which we all benefit.

We also like tabloids. They’re fun. Our main problem with the Sun’s piece is its all-too-common mode of argument.

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Data: big and small

Everyone is talking about “big data” – the use of massive quantities of information to analyze everything from the weather to the concentration of matter in the universe. For several years, economists have been getting into the big data act, too. One example is nowcasting – using vast arrays of electronic data to assess the current state of the economy ("now”) rather than waiting for official data and its inevitable delays. 

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