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Forecasting Current-Quarter U.S. Exports Using Satellite Data

Jun Nie and Amy Oksol Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Economic Review, Second Quarter 2018

Excerpt:

"In this analysis, we use nighttime lights data to forecast current-quarter U.S. export growth. We focus on current-quarter forecasts because a better estimate of current exports will establish a base for forecasting future exports. We find nighttime lights data are helpful overall in forecasting current-quarter U.S. export growth, largely due to more frequent data. In particular, we find that using monthly nighttime lights data generates a smaller forecast error than using quarterly foreign GDP. When using quarterly data for both lights and foreign GDP, however, GDP data outperform lights data."