The timely availability of indicators for assessing the current economic situation is essential for a foresighted, rapid and appropriate response by economic policymakers. Especially when the situation changes as quickly and fundamentally as it did at the time of the COVID-19 shutdown, in mid-March 2020. While financial market indicators priced in the development relatively quick, macroeconomic core variables and economic leading indicators continued to point to not particularly good, but from today's perspective certainly positive economic development for a relatively long time. It was not until just over a month after the start of the lockdown that the first data became available that gave an indication of the severity of the economic crisis. Data on foreign trade, for example, are only published with a delay of 70 days after the end of the reference month.
The aim of the IHS Economic High-Frequency Monitor is therefore to provide a rapidly available, high-frequency set of indicators to enable the timely analysis and assessment of the economic activity of the Austrian economy.
Indicators that can be used for this purpose must meet several criteria, if possible: They should be available regularly - at least weekly - and already in the week after the end of the reference week. In order to be able to measure a correlation with economic activity, the development of the indicators must also be available in time series that are as long as possible. In addition, the focus lies initially on so-called "hard" indicators that directly refer to a measure of real economic activity as opposed to "soft" indicators that are based on surveys or financial market data.
Currently, IHS has three time series at its disposal: rail freight transport performance, electricity consumption and unemployment rate. IHS is also in exchange with other institutions and data providers to expand the Economic High Frequency Monitor.
The tool is available at monitor.ihs.ac.at.