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Opinion
Barry Ritholtz

A Forecast About GDP Nowcasts

Predictions are difficult, especially about the future.
Maybe we need another prefix.

Maybe we need another prefix.

Source: NASA/GOES project/getty images

For some time now, economic data geeks have had a fun little tool to play around with -- the GDPNow forecast by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta of quarterly gross domestic product growth. Rather than wait three months for the official GDP data, the wonks at the Atlanta Fed broke GDP into its component parts. Tracking those as each piece was updated gave a ballpark reading of how the economy was doing in something closer to real time. The Atlanta Fed even came up with a nice marketing name for the forecasting project -- “nowcasting,” which I suppose is better than the hindcasting so much of the financial and economic professional does.  

Now there’s some competition. Liberty Street Economics, the blog of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said earlier this week that it too is getting into the nowcasting game.