The Bank of England Will Monitor Social Networks to Set Interest Rates

By Jamie Condliffe on at

The world's eighth oldest bank is joining the modern age. From 2015, it will monitor social networks and mine them for information and early signs of economic ups and downs.

The Bank is setting up a new taskforce that will investigate how it can use all kinds of new data—because it believes it will be more timely than current, official streams of information. In particular, it's mentioned that it will measure the frequency of job searches to understand potential unemployment rates and monitor online shopping prices to assess inflation. Speaking to Sky News, the Bank's chief economist, Andy Haldane, explained:

"Official statistics tend to be lagging and tend to be revised. And what this scraping of the web can do is give us a better today read on what's going on... We have a new advanced analytics team who are constructing little models, algorithms and methods for extracting this data. We have a data lab. This is quite a big strategic change for the bank. This is going to be quite a big shift from the past."

It's not clear when the data will be used for inform the actual decision making of the Bank. [Sky News]

Image by Doug Wheller under Creative Commons license