When Are Google Data Useful to Nowcast GDP? An Approach via Pre-Selection and Shrinkage
30 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2019
Date Written: April 2019
Nowcasting GDP growth is extremely useful for policy-makers to assess macroeconomic conditions in real-time. In this paper, we aim at nowcasting euro area GDP with a large database of Google search data. Our objective is to check whether this specific type of information can be useful to increase GDP nowcasting accuracy, and when, once we control for official variables. In this respect, we estimate shrunk bridge regressions that integrate Google data optimally screened through a targeting method, and we empirically show that this approach provides some gain in pseudo-real-time nowcasting of euro area GDP quarterly growth. Especially, we get that Google data bring useful information for GDP nowcasting for the four first weeks of the quarter when macroeconomic information is lacking. However, as soon as official data become available, their relative nowcasting power vanishes. In addition, a true real-time analysis confirms that Google data constitute a reliable alternative when official data are lacking.
Keywords: Nowcasting, Big data, Sure Independence Screening, Ridge Regularization
JEL Classification: C53, C55, E37
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation