About the Center
The Center for Microeconomic Data serves to centralize the collection, acquisition, and analysis of microeconomic data at the New York Fed and act as a catalyst for microeconomic research by promoting engagement with the wide academic community. The wide-ranging data, research, and analysis produced in the Center provide insight into individual-level financial and nonfinancial economic conditions, expectations, and behavior in the U.S.
Central banks, particularly the central bank of the United States, are well-known for macroeconomic analysis that bears a clear connection to their monetary policy and financial stability missions. But there are several reasons for microeconomic data and research to also play a prominent role in support of Fed policy making. First, and perhaps most fundamentally, macroeconomic and financial market developments are determined by the decisions of many millions of individual actors – businesses, households and governments – and these individual decisions are often best analyzed using the theoretical and empirical methods of microeconomics. Micro-economics emphasizes and tries to understand heterogeneity, which can often be crucial in real-world policymaking and implementation. Microeconomic data and their analyses are therefore increasingly seen as essential supplements to macroeconomic data-based analyses.
In addition, the information required for effective macroeconomic analysis and policymaking is often incomplete or imperfect. Recent developments in data collection and storage enable, and help support, new kinds of analysis that had previously been impossible. Micro-economists’ understanding of how to construct datasets that are useful for both macro- and micro-analysis can be a critical resource for answering questions and shedding light on aspects of the economy that have hitherto remained opaque. This is well illustrated by the two large data collection projects that anchor the Center of Microeconomic Data: the FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel, and the Survey of Consumer Expectations. While the former provides rich, granular and high frequency and up-to-date data on household debt and credit conditions in the U.S. , the latter provides a monthly picture of consumer’s perceptions and expectations on a host of economic outcomes and decisions.
Finally, microeconomic research emphasizes the particular characteristics of agents, institutions and markets. Detailed understanding of specific parts of the economy – for example the housing market – can be an invaluable resource in understanding and putting into appropriate context crucial developments as they unfold. Given this background, the center’s objectives can be succinctly summarized.
- Develop and use microeconomic data and microeconometric techniques to investigate key decisions taken by individuals and firms and to analyze the impact of fiscal and monetary policy on individual agents. (E.g. provide new insights into the nature and status of household deleveraging)
- Contribute to financial stability mission by supporting the development and application of econometric models of household loan defaults.
- Produce high quality research that contributes to the general policy debate (e.g. on student loans)
- Engage the academic community in the Bank’s policy decisions through conferences and seminars.