Economic index tinkering

Espresso shorts in hand my day started off with a video advertisement from Pandora which was interesting. At the moment, I’m wondering how much advertising is changing right now in the time of pandemic. Given the number of days before the election a lot of political advertisements are filling up any space traditional advertisers have given up. This is the time of year for that type of messaging. Politicians are trying to build brand and influence decisions. Creating and installing a stronger philosophical foundation within the electorate would be a more efficient strategy than trying to be the last influencer before the point of deciding. Strong beliefs are one thing that one way or another are not going to be driven asunder with one soundbyte. That is one of the reasons why I index election prediction by registered voters and changes in voter registration as key factors. 

A few years ago I tried to diagram the real time flow of the economy using the same type of method Sergey and Larry used for prototyping large-scale search engines (1998). Trying to index the economy seems like a reasonably possible thing to do given all the advances in technology over the last 20 years. It also made me wonder how many other people had tried to build a real time index of the companies that make up the economy and assign them weights and values. Somebody has to have figured out a method to monitor the economy and index it in real time. A quick Google search of that idea shows that whoever might have accomplished that does not really appear to be sharing it. Say for example you wanted to index the restaurant industry you could start with Yelp or some other review based collection as a seed dataset. The basic element of health in question would be does the site note that the restaurant is open and operational or closed. That would provide a first measure of real time status for those businesses. Google maps even has data on how busy a restaurant is and how much time people spend at the establishment. You could get pretty deep on the metrics pretty quickly. This method of evaluation  is probably a better indicator than trying to extract the dissolutions of businesses by state and assigning industry to them after the fact. 

That is probably where I would start building out an economic health index. Starting with the restaurant industry is probably not a bad place to start. That foundation could be used to pair with bankruptcy filings and mortgage defaults to start creating an index of economic health. After I finish up my presentations this month that is probably what I’m going to start working on as my next major project. My focus this morning is all over the place. I have spent more time surfing the internet than actively writing this morning. That is probably a consequence of the new puppy waking up at 04:00 hours and being ready to play. That is apparently a puppy feature that always exists and could be activated at any time. I’m about to shift all of my focus and energy over to finalizing that slide presentation. Today is the day for wrapping up that endeavor. Yesterday I made some good progress and recorded and listened to a practice run through the complete presentation. That means I should be able to practice delivering the talk about twenty times before the actual delivery. That should be enough practice to help ensure a high quality delivery. 

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