Quick Access: Find Statistical Data on the Internet

Article excerpt

In a typical business library, current o? historical quotes on interest rates, foreign exchange rates, stocks, etc. are requested frequently, if not daily. Remember those days when we received government releases on official data through regular mail? They sometimes came late, sometimes simply got lost. Now we are happy to know that most of the data are available for free on the Internet. The new medium is fast, reliable, available at any time, and saves physical space in a library, which is particularly important if your library happens to be a small one. We must admit that data providers have made the Internet one of its best usages.

At my daily work in an accounting firm's library, I have been using the Internet to search for statistical data and found a number of sites that deserve bookmarking. The following is a list of annotated sources that provide most-wanted statistical data in my library. I hope the list benefits other business librarians as well. While most of them are web sites, some are ftp or gopher sites. When it is possible, both current and historical data sources are given.

Selected Interest Rates

Main: http://www.bog.frb.fed.us/releases/H15

Current: http://www.bog.frb.fed.us/releases/H15/update

Historical: http://www.bog.frb.fed.us/releases/H15/data.htm

Published by the Federal Reserve Board, Federal Reserve Statistical Release H.15 "Selected Interest Rates" contains daily interest rates for selected U.S. Treasury and private money market and capital market instruments. The weekly release is posted on Monday. Daily updates are posted Tuesday through Friday. The release can be viewed by either ASCII or PDF format - the difference is that the former is fast to download while the latter bears better presentation layout. The historical database is updated quarterly. All historical data fries can be downloaded into a zip file. The data files were compressed with PKZIP; the software to expand the files is available from PKWARE's web site at http://www.pkware.com.

Consumer Price Index

Main: http://stats.bls.gov/cpihome.htm

Current: http://stats.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nws.htm

Historical: 1913-1998

CPI-U: http://146.142.4.24/cgibin/surveymost?cu

CPI-W: http://146.142.4.24/cgibin/surveymost?cw

Regional: http://stats.bls.gov/top20.html

Also known as CPI, the Consumer Price Index is one of the most important benchmarks the financial world watches. It is an inflationary indicator that measures the change in the cost of a fixed basket of products and services, including housing, electricity, food, and transportation. Hence it is often referred to as the cost-of-living index. The U.S. Department of Labor publishes the Consumer Price Index every month. The main page contains an overview, frequently asked questions, news releases, and contact information. Current data includes both All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) and Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). Historical data display range can be one, two, three, ten, or all years (1913-1998). Regional data includes the following regional areas: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, and San Francisco. You can choose from the categories of CPI-W, CPI-U, unemployment rate, unemployment level, and labor force level.

Telephone access is also available for your convenience. You would appreciate this when your company's network is down. Detailed CPI information is available by calling 1-202-606-7828. Recorded summaries of the Consumer Price Index are also available by calling any one of the metropolitan area the Consumer Price Index hotlines listed at this address http://stats.bls.gov/cpi1998f.htm. These hotline summaries typically include data for the United States city average as well as the specified area.

Producer Price Index

Main: http://stats.bls.gov/ppihome.htm

Current: http://stats. …