Data Sources Compendium [Updated]

Update of The Data Will Set You Free  (in preparation for a new semester!)

In an era of easily accessible databases, am constantly amazed that people write stuff that is easily falsifiable.  Or ask me for the “raw” data when it’s freely available via a aggregating database I’ve provided the hyperlink (most galling is when they then accuse me of misquoting data sources).

Just to remind the frequent commenters on this blog, freely available and documented data available here:

Usually I cite FRED or BEA and/or BLS via FRED, or from the above data sources. In certain cases, I have written papers using specialized data sources. Below are links to those data sources.

And from teaching:

12 thoughts on “Data Sources Compendium [Updated]

  1. pgl

    Thanks for the usual links. We were wondering when you would note:

    “I am constantly amazed that people write stuff that is easily falsifiable, in an era of easily accessible databases”.

    There is an unbelievable amount of this going but in a way it is understandable when the Usual Suspects are all on Kelly Anne Conway’s payroll.

  2. pgl

    Speaking of databases, I spent this morning listening to some European attorney babble on trying to explain how some Big Four report tried to defend a 12% intercompany interest rate. There were references to a range of third party loan rates from 3% to 8%, which of course would not defend 12% except by the magic of this attorney’s insane babbling. Yes lawyers get paid big bucks for basically lying.

    But in the last decade, German government bond rates have been nowhere near 8% (it was a Euro denominated loan) but the overpaid yoohoo attorney told his audience that the Big Four firm that wrote this intellectual garbage used some “database” of loans. Maybe if it were a database ala Judy Shelton. And yes Big Four accounting firms get paid big bucks for intellectual garbage.

    Of course our host provides reliable well sourced data all for free. So come on – trolls. Stop complaining as the Big Four is hiring.

    1. Anonymous


      I think what they are talking about is the famed “corporate WACC”. I encounter this 12% a lot with my corporate clients. It’s very traditional. I’ve seen 15% also, but 12% is the most common. It’s what the CFO and finance department tell you, you have to use in any NPV model (for a new widget factory, for an acquisition, etc.) The Big Four (are we down to four now!?) are just defending hoary tradition and the practices of their clients (finance departments at companies).

      There are many levers to change the NPV result when developing a decision model (market and submarket estimates, cost estimates, capex, synergies, etc.) Sheets and sheets of Excel, supported by data gathering, interviews, etc.. Even if it doesn’t “work” at least it forces you to learn the business!

      Needless to say the discount rate (WACC) has a hyoooge impact on the NPV/IRR. (I’m a purist, so I just look at NPV, but some execs find IRR easier to understand, but same impact of the WACC, mostly.) The finance departments are just trying to install some sort of control by specifying the WACC. It’s definitely overconservative (and “wrong”) for most industries. I think they think it compensates from some of the lies (I mean optimism) of people at SBUs trying to get their deals approved. Plus they don’t trust the people at SBUs to do the WACC math right.

      If you bring in McKinsey or Goldman, they will just refuse to use the corporate rate (in my experience). It just violates and wastes all that MBA training. They will get the federal bond term structure and the Barra betas and even do the leveraged -> unleveraged -> leveraged beta calculations. And do a proper WACC calculation. And they’ll insist on using the beta for the industry at stake (important in conglomerates…chemicals and oil E&P have different betas).

      Some companies will actually “do it right” and calculate the proper WACC (like out of the Brealey and Myers book or the Copeland book, like what McKinsey or Goldman will do). I find this more with big midstream companies that make long term bets and where the uncertainties in the other parts of the model are lower. But even they won’t let the project team do their own WACC. They’ll specify from on high, but it will be something sensible like 9.1% or the like (not the 12% thumbrule).

      Note, you can’t just look at corporate bond rates. The whole point of “WACC” is that the project is being financed by equity and (usually some) debt. But if you look at debt only, it’s not a fair charge for the project. That debt is higher up in the capital structure and carries a lower risk. Also bond rates can be all over the map given where they are in the stack versus each other, company-specific issues, etc. But when you challenge a project, you do it with industry capital return metrics (NOT company cost of borrowing, another common executive fallacy I see…capital is a fluid…just because company has a bunch of other bad projects, doesn’t change the equation for this one.)

      1. pgl

        I get what you are saying but the issue was not the overall cost of capital. No it was what is a reasonable interest rate on a debt instrument. And trust me – these international tax attorneys would have no clue how to estimate the cost of capital even if that were the issue.

  3. Anonymous

    Thanks for the FRED link earlier. Those darned frisky commenters. 😉

    For oil discussions, there’s a vast amount of EIA data. Free on their site: you have to look carefully on the pages, but they have little links where you can download the spreadsheets. More US centric, but some global coverage. (But DON’T use EIA weekly US production…it’s not a real curated time series, just a summary of STEO model estimates, never even updated…see people make this mistake all the time.) Also, Baker Hughes has an excellent public NA rig count (can even download the pivot table with lots more data than in the weekly summaries). They have some international stuff also, but I don’t know as much about that. Also CME has free (public) quotes for the Brent, WTI, HH etc. futures strips. There’s a lot of stuff you can buy too (IHS a big vendor, but are others), but of course that only makes sense if you have a client/budget…not for unpaid Internet chitchat.

  4. David O'Rear

    Excellent list.
    Please add the Congressional Budget Office,, and … somewhere there is a list of national statistical offices. Much more current than IMF.

  5. Moses Herzog

    Where I live (I assume this is a nation-wide promotion) You can get two Big Macs for $6. That’s obviously $3 for one before tax. That’s not too bad. McDonald’s will also give you a large soda pop for $1, but if you’re smart you’ll just provide your own grocery soda for much less than the $1 McDs option, but still $1 for a medium or large soda pop from a fast food place isn’t bad. I still think a large part of this “supply chain inflation” is a con job. Supermarket burgers are also much cheaper, I can get in essence pre-made patties $1 a piece 10patties/$10 and a pac of 8 hamburger buns for under 90cents. So that’s in essence $1.12 for a burger a make at home before I add condiments and a small amount of natural gas for cooking them. And they are decent quality. I can usually get limes for 20cents to 25cents. Lately I have seen them above 50cents and even higher than 80cents. If you think I stopped buying them when the price rose above 30cents, you’d be right. I’m not buying a lot of this supply chain inflation American media sales pitch. Some of it I buy, for example the issues with computer chips or processors. But this is where conspiracy theorist Uncle Moses shows up to play. I think a large part of this is collusion and a con job by corporate America. And I am not participating, because Uncle Moses is smart enough to find ways not to participate in it.

    I wish my fellow citizens would read more and take a clue. But, this is where we are now with MAGA and QAnon illiterates. Unable to see the REAL conspiracy perched right on their nose, while making up nonexistent conspiracies in their…….. “minds”.

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