Indices of Regional Economic Activity for Russia
In large countries, the development of national macroeconomic business cycles clearly involves regional nuances that, as a rule, fall outside scholars’ fields of vision, especially when monitoring the current economic situation. Regional statistics published by the Russian Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) are reviewed in terms of quality, and radical disagreement between “month-on-month” and “year-on-year” monthly statistics is identified. In view of this, an original method is proposed for estimating the level of regional economic activity (REA), based on monthly official regional statistics in five key sectors of the Russian economy: industry, construction, retail trade, wholesale trade, and paid services for the population. This method transforms current “year-on-year” growth rates into specially constructed dichotomous variables, which eliminate the excessive volatility and inaccuracy of the initial time series.
On these grounds, REA indices are estimated for all Russian constituent entities for the period from January 2005 to November 2017. Composite REA indices for all five economic sectors, eight federal districts, and Russia as a whole are then calculated. Methods for visualising multidimensional regional data are also proposed. They allow us to track the regional peculiarities of the Russian economy and to discern the current phase of the business cycle more accurately and without any additional lag. Several illustrative examples for the possible application of these indices in real-time monitoring and analyses are provided.