Real-Time Economics, a project by CaixaBank Research

Follow the evolution of the Spanish economy with our real-time indicators.

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November 8th, 2022
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The key is in the data, you just have to know where to look.

We are witnessing a veritable revolution in the field of economic research: the real-time data revolution. With the spread of technologies such as digital payments and techniques that enable the processing of large amounts of data (so-called ‘big data’ techniques), we are now able to measure developments in the economy using high-frequency data and at an astonishing level of detail. In other words, we have high-quality, near-instantaneous information that allows us to observe and predict the progress of the economy with unprecedented precision.

Our contribution to this revolution is the Real-Time Economics portal, a pioneering project in Spain which aims to monitor the evolution of the economy through a range of indicators built using internal CaixaBank data and ‘big data’ techniques. For the time being, we have focused on five areas: consumption, housing, tourism, wages and inequality.

Indeed, inequality was the very seed from which the current Real-Time Economics portal stemmed. In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, there was an urgent need to understand how COVID-19 was affecting the most vulnerable groups of society and how the welfare state was responding to the crisis. It was this urgent need that led to the emergence of the Inequality Tracker, developed by researchers from Pompeu Fabra University, the Institute of Political Economy and Governance and CaixaBank Research. This tracker allowed us to analyse the evolution of million of payrolls each month in order to obtain an accurate and representative estimate of the distribution of wages across society. Over the past year, we have tracked the trends in this wage data month by month, both for society as a whole and for the most vulnerable groups in particular.  Furthermore, we have ascertained the role that public sector benefits have played in softening the heavy blow of the pandemic. For the first time, it was possible to monitor inequality in Spain on a monthly basis and with an extraordinary level of detail.

Aware of the difficulties involved in economic forecasting and the role that high-frequency data could play in helping to address them, especially in a context as complex as the coronavirus crisis, in 2020 we also developed the Consumption Tracker. Using this indicator, we managed to take the pulse of economic activity in Spain, week by week, based on card payments: again, millions of transactions per month. Previously, we had already begun to use internal CaixaBank data – always anonymised – to observe the spending patterns of foreign tourists or, in the sphere of real estate, to understand home purchase or rental decisions, among other analyses.

Behind these indicators are hours and hours of work carried out by a multidisciplinary team of economists and data scientists who, together with the technical and creative teams that have accompanied us in this project, have processed, interpreted and condensed the data, transforming them into the portal you see today.

We work by analysing our data in order to condense them into the indicators which we put at your disposal today, in the Real-Time Economy portal, providing you with easy and instant access to key economic information.