Magazine article Business Credit

Global Economic and Business Data for Credit Managers

Magazine article Business Credit

Global Economic and Business Data for Credit Managers

Article excerpt

Only a few years ago, most macroeconomic data were of far less importance to credit professionals. The numbers were too broad and lagged too far behind reality to play a significant role in planning or decision-making. All of that has changed with the web, which now allows economists and credit analysts to collect, interpret and disseminate data almost instantly.

For almost every economy in the world, credit managers can monitor major economic indicators, including growth and inflation, which affect interest rates and risk factors. Credit managers can also track monetary policy, which affects the cost of financing and the pace of future economic activity. Because the data available are more current and accurate, forecasting has improved and can help credit managers anticipate adverse economic conditions that may affect trade and payment behavior. Forecasts for all major indicators for almost all countries can be found on the International Monetary Fund and World Bank web sites, which also include the most detailed data on global macroeconomic trends. National statistics agencies provide the most current macroeconomic data and trade reports.

Experts agree that data posted on the web are useful if credit professionals follow these guidelines:

1. Define the purpose of your search before you begin. If you don't know how the data will relate to decisions, you are likely to collect too much data.

2. Seek data from a number of independent sources, then average the estimates or look for consensus.

3. Place the data in the proper contexts. Evaluate both absolute numbers for important indicators and rates of change over time.

4. Test the data against information from the field. Does the data support what your managers, sales teams and suppliers report?

This article provides an annotated guide to international sources for economic and business data immediately accessible on the web. It includes only some of the sites posted by the largest and most reliable public sources, plus a few private sources that post data on their web sites with no subscription, registration or payment required. Most of the sites listed provide links to other relevant sites. The guide includes only sites in English or sites that allow users to select an English language option.

GLOBAL DATA

International Monetary Fund

http://www.imf.org

Frequently updated data on exchange rates, inflation targets, external debt; detailed statistical tables for major economic indicators for most of the IMF's 182 member countries; staff country reports with extensive analyses of economic developments and business conditions in individual countries; forecasts for economic growth by region and by country published every May and October in the World Economic Outlook and available online; full texts of economic and monetary policy statements.

World Bank

http://www.worldbank.org

Extensive data by country for all economic indicators, including GDP, trade, financial developments, commodity prices, inflation; economic forecasts for regions and countries; full texts of World Bank research reports and working papers; links to the Bank's regional institutions; data and business information generated by the Bank's Business Partnership Center, plus contact information for financing projects, obtaining insurance and identifying local partners.

United Nations Stat

http://www.un.org/depts/unsd

Detailed population and vital statistics for 229 countries and areas, including a monthly bulletin of online economic statistics; quarterly data on long-term economic trends, plus links to national statistical agencies.

World Trade Organization

http://www.wto.org

International trade statistics by country, region and economic grouping, including merchandise and commercial services trade, plus special studies on trade topics.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

http://www. …

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