Eric Swanson

Certain private-sector data can also give the Fed a quicker read on the economy. Eric Swanson, an economics professor at the University of California, Irvine, said that early in the pandemic, when things were changing quickly, the Fed looked at online rent prices, anonymized cellphone location data and credit card transaction data. “Because consumer spending data comes out at the end of the next month, whereas credit card transaction data can come out within a day or two,” he said.

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