Don't Wait for the Government's Economic Data
Unemployment numbers and the consumer price index (CPI) are among the most important economic indicators used by both Wall Street traders and government policy makers. During the government shutdown those statistics weren't be collected or calculated and now that the government is up and running again it will be a while before the latest numbers are released.
According to the New York Times, the October 4 unemployment report will be released October 22, and the October 16th CPI will come out on Halloween Eve. But, you don't have to wait for those numbers to come out. In fact, these numbers are always slow — CPI takes about a month to calculate so even if it had come out on October 6, the number still would have been out of date. Luckily, there are already other good tools for anticipating what these numbers will be even before they're released. For CPI, there's the Billion Prices Project developed at MIT (now at PriceStats). For more on the Billion Prices Project, check out this post. And for unemployment, we worked through how a model based on search trends can be used to forecast the yet to be released official number in the last post on this blog.
This is a great opportunity for investors and policy makers to reduce their dependence on glacial paced antiquated statistics and start incorporating information from newer faster tools into their decision making.