Economics reporter Neil Irwin wrote about his technology-related workflow in today’s New York Times. In, “Why ‘Fred’ Is the Best Friend of Economics Writers,” he says:
Economics is a topic full of data. What tools do you use to parse that data? And what sites or apps do you use to keep on top of the latest economic trends?
Every economics writer’s best friend is named Fred. It stands for Federal Reserve Economic Data, and it’s maintained by the Fed bank in St. Louis. It allows you to use a single interface to pull, at last count, 509,000 different data series from 87 different sources of economic and financial data.
A big part of the advantage is simply that once you’re familiar with the interface, which is intuitive, you don’t have to relearn the data retrieval tool for each statistical agency every time. So, for example, I write about the European economy only now and again, so I have to relearn how to use the Eurostat database every time if the data isn’t in Fred. That’s not for the faint of heart.
I generally use Microsoft Excel for data analysis, which is powerful enough to do most of the stuff I know how to do on my own. That’s to say, if a project requires a bigger data set or more complex statistical techniques than Excel can handle, I probably will need help from a colleague with more advanced programming skills anyway.
Or for a quick calculation of, say, percentage change I use a Texas Instruments scientific calculator I keep on my desk…
Congratulations, FRED team!
We were thrilled to have Katrina Stierholz from FRED and Charissa Jefferson of Cal State Northridge introduce FRED at our recent 4T Data Literacy conference. Check out the archived session here.