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Economic analysis based on actual data!

Posted by todd at 5:05 AM on February 1, 2009

We have seen a lot of news reports that talk about large macro economic indicators in dire terms. What’s happening in terms of black friday sales figures, how property prices are falling, and consumer confidence figures for example. While all of these make good news stories, they are lacking in direct information. Most of this is indicator information, and while it could mean that things are bad it can also mean that people think things are bad.

Aaron Patzer has provided a little bit of the missin detail in a guest post on Techcrunch. Aaron is the CEO of a company called Mint. While I am not personally familiar with the company, they do have the details of the spending and financial position of around 900,000 US households. In aggregate form, this data shows us a very good picture of what is going on in the real world bank accounts of a statistically significant subset of America.

It shows that while people are indeed spending less, their bank accounts are lower, and their loans are higher. This shows a picture of what is happening on the street. I reccommend you have a look at the article if you have any interest in this subject. There is some things lacking in the information though. We do not see in the article any detail on the high level demographics of the sample set compared to general US demographics. This stops us knowing how representative this set may be. Also given that Mint appears to be a fairly new company, and the data set compares August to December, it would also help to know whether there was any change in that demographics. I would also like to see a comparison of only users who where customers of Mint at both time periods.

Despite these minor questions on the data, this is one of the best looks into what is actually going on in the economy that I have seen.

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