In 1993, the Philadelphia Fed undertook a project to develop a real-time data set for macroeconomists, who can use these data in many ways — for example, when analyzing indexes of consumer confidence. existing research indicates that consumer-confidence measures, though highly correlated with future spending, do not improve forecasts of future spending. but these studies used revised data that were not available to forecasters at the time they made their forecasts. In this article, Dean Croushore uses the real-time data set to investigate an important question: Does using data available to forecasters at the time — that is, real-time data — make measures of consumer confidence more valuable for forecasting?

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Copyright © 2006 Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. This article first appeared in Business Review - Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Q3 (April 2006): 1-9.

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