Gross domestic product (GDP) is the most important statistic in macroeconomics. As a measure of the value of goods and services produced within a country, GDP announcements can swing stock markets, political sentiments, business plans, and much else. Yet despite its importance, GDP figures--calculated in the U.S. by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) --are merely estimates and often subject to substantial subsequent revision. With businesses, politicians, and consumers making choices based on GDP data, however, such revisions can be costly. With so much at stake, the methodology for estimating GDP and similar statistics is the subject of constant scrutiny.
This grant supports a major international conference about macroeconomic statistics to be held in August 2012. Conference participants will include a host of venerable research and government institutions, including the BEA, the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the National Bureau of Economic Research. Grant funds will offset conference costs, support the commissioning of papers for conference sessions on GDP revisions and new GDP data sources, and enable the publication of a selection of peer-reviewed papers from the conference.