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Research Department Working Papers

Measuring Real Activity Using a Weekly Economic Index

No. 2011 (Revised March 2021, new title)
Daniel J. Lewis, Karel Mertens, James H. Stock and Mihir Trivedi

Abstract: This paper describes a weekly economic index (WEI) developed to track the rapid economic developments associated with the onset of and policy response to the novel coronavirus in the United States. The WEI is a weekly composite index of real economic activity, with eight of 10 series available the Thursday after the end of the reference week. In addition to being a weekly real activity index, the WEI has strong predictive power for output measures and provided an accurate nowcast of current-quarter GDP growth in the first half of 2020, with weaker performance in the second half. We document how the WEI responded to key events and data releases during the first 10 months of the pandemic.


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