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Specifically, I'm looking at the Forex markets, and I'm waiting for today's US GDP figures. I'm keeping an eye on the financial papers, but where can I find official sources of information, maybe as they're released? I'm also interested in any other data sources that summarise this type of information, for the US and the world.

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United States

For press releases about economic data, the Bureau of Economic Analysis press release page is helpful. Depending on the series, you could also look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics press release page.

For time series of both historical and present data, the St. Louis Federal Reserve maintains a database such data, including numerous measures of GDP, called FRED. They list nearly 15,000 series related to GDP alone. FRED is extremely useful because it allows you to make graphs that indicate areas of recession, like this:

FRED GDP graph

On the series' homepage, there's a bold link on the left side to download the data. If you simply need the most recent data, it's listed below the graph on that page.

If you're interested in a more in-depth analysis, you can use the Bureau of Economic Analysis as well, specifically the National Income and Product Accounts, which are most of the numbers that feed into the calculation of GDP. FRED also archives some of these data. Both FRED and the BEA compile data on numerous other economic benchmarks as well.

Other general sources for a wide range of announcements are the Yahoo, Bloomberg, and the Wall Street Journal economic calendars. These provide the dates of many economic announcements, e.g. existing home sales, durable orders, crude inventories, etc. Yahoo provides links to the raw data where available; Bloomberg and the WSJ provide links to their article where appropriate. This is a great way to learn about various announcements and how they affect the markets; for example, the somewhat disappointing durable orders announcement recently pushed markets down a few points.

Europe

For Europe, look at Eurostat. On the left side of the page, they list links to common data, including GDP. They list the latest releases on the home page that I previously linked to.

Global sources

For the sake of keeping this question short, I'm lumping the rest of the world into this paragraph. Data for many other countries is maintained by their governments or central banks in a similar fashion. The World Bank's databank also has relevant data like Gross National Income (GNI), which isn't identical to GDP, but it's another (less common) macroeconomic indicator.

You can also look at the economic calendar on livecharts.co.uk or xe.com, which list events for the US, Europe, Australasia, and some Latin American countries. If you're only interested in the US, the Bloomberg or Yahoo calendars may have a higher signal-to-noise ratio, but if you're interested in following how global markets like currency markets respond to new information, a global economic calendar is a must. Dailyfx.com also has a global economic calendar that, according to them, is specifically geared towards events that affect the forex market.

Governments/Central Banks

As I said, governments and central banks compile a lot of this data, so to make searching easier, here are a few links to statistical agencies and central banks for major countries. I compiled this list a while ago on my personal machine, so although I think all the links are accurate, leave a comment if something isn't quite right.

Statistics

Australia / Brazil / Canada / Canada / China / Eurostat / France / Germany / IMF / Japan / Mexico / OECD / Thailand / UK / US

Central banks

Australia / Brazil / Canada / Chile / China / ECB / Hungary / India / Indonesia / Israel / Japan / Mexico / Norway / Russia / Sweden / Switzerland / Thailand / UK / US

  • Thank you, this has turned into a great information resource. – gb2d May 29 '13 at 22:41
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For immediate availability, by far the fastest (and cheapest) way to get macroeconomic figures as they are released, is by following (verified) Twitter accounts of the respective Central bank and institutions alike. Indeed, Twitter is the new trader tape.

  • What if the organization doesn't have a Twitter account? I don't see how this is cheaper than using an economic calendar. – John Bensin Apr 29 '13 at 11:10
  • @JohnBensin, your list is great and thorough. I just wanted to supplement to your answer regarding the "as they are released". A lot of people is not aware that the breaking news and figures is found on twitter, before anywhere else. If the organisation does not have a Twitter account (although unlikely), surely some other trustworthy source will cover this. In fact, I would not be surprised if dailyfx, the calender provider you linked to, posts on twitter before updating their calender! – franktheshark Apr 29 '13 at 11:43
  • It might be helpful if you included links to the various Twitter accounts, because there are more than a few even on my small list that don't have accounts that I could find, e.g. Thailand's Office of National Economic and Social Development Board, the People's Bank of China, etc. Although some breaking news is found on Twitter, it's important to realize that even information coming from verified Twitter accounts isn't necessarily reliable. – John Bensin Apr 29 '13 at 11:47
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There are tons of data provided on the CIA - The World Factbook webpage. Among the rest, there are the GDP values as well.

The World Factbook provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities. Our Reference tab includes: maps of the major world regions, as well as Flags of the World, a Physical Map of the World, a Political Map of the World, a World Oceans map, and a Standard Time Zones of the World map.

  • The CIA factbook doesn't use recent data, however. The most recent GDP figures they offer are 2012 estimates (all of their economic data is dated to sometime in 2012, in fact). This is a serious problem if you're looking for recently released data to use in market analysis, especially the Forex market. – John Bensin Apr 30 '13 at 13:58

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