On the eve of the recent financial crisis, few observers of the economy were pessimistic, in part because the data commonly used to inform economic policy gave no indication of the magnitude of the approaching crisis and Great Recession. In retrospect, the data trails left by the crisis are all too apparent. Part of the visibility problem is attributable to the period of significant innovation and structural change in financial institutions and instruments in the decades before the onset of the crisis. The chapters in this volume identify areas where technical improvements in measurement procedures are needed in order to better understand developments in finance and their effects on households, businesses, and the international financial situation of the US economy. They use new methods to measure and analyze defined benefit pension plans and international financial flows, and specialized micro data sets to examine how households and businesses fared in the financial crisis. Their themes include the data gaps revealed by the financial crisis, the development of more complete financial and economic data and statistics, and approaches to data collection and analysis that may help us see, understand and manage potential sources of systemic risk, disequilibria and poor economic performance.
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