What is the BCI Database and Internet Service?

The Business Cycle Indicators database provides economic indicators that have proven to be most useful in determining current conditions and predicting the future direction of the economy. The BCI dataset offers the convenience of a wealth of statistical information gathered together in a common format.

One benefit of the BCI-Internet service is that the datafiles include the full history for each series, including revisions, along with the latest data. A common spreadsheet-type format is used, allowing the BCI series to be easily imported into numerous software programs (including EXCEL, LOTUS-123, FREELANCE, EVIEWS, TSP, and SAS).

The datafiles are formatted so that each row in the BCI database files is a separate month-year (or quarter-year). Variable names are above each column. The column widths are set at 8 characters. The data series begin in 1945 and run through the present with blank spaces for periods before the data is available.

U.S. BCI Dataset

More than 250 economic series are in the U.S. BCI dataset. They cover the most important aspects and sectors of the U.S. economy, such as:

  • employment and related labor market conditions;
  • consumer price indexes (CPI), producer price indexes (PPI), and commodity prices;
  • GDP, income, wages, and personal consumption;
  • industrial production, capacity, business sales, and orders for manufactured goods;
  • interest rates and money supply data;
  • consumer confidence and expectation indexes;
  • the composite leading, coincident, and lagging indexes and the underlying data series or indicators used to construct these three indexes.

The U.S. BCI dataset was first developed in the 1960s by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The BEA discontinued their BCI project in late 1995, and The Conference Board has been solely responsible for the BCI database since February 1996 when it also assumed responsibility for the widely-reported leading index of the U.S. economy.

The Conference Board is expanding its widely-watched U.S. Business Cycle program to produce leading indicators for major economies around the world. These new global indicators are released on a consistent monthly schedule, through the use of a application of Conference Board research that helps make the indicator data more timely. In particular, The Conference Board has aimed to address the 2-3 month publication lag that typically characterizes economic indicators in the U.S. and abroad.

Global Indicators Datasets

The Global Indicators program produces business cycle indicators for these economies: Australia, China, Euro Area, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Components of business cycle indicators will vary somewhat by individual country. The UK economic indicators, for example, include these thirteen components:

  • bond yields
  • export order book volume
  • consumer confidence change
  • inventory changes
  • money supply
  • stock prices
  • new orders
  • housing starts
  • personal disposable income
  • gross domestic product
  • industrial production
  • retail sales
  • unemployment rate
  • Human Capital
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