Chris Hansen – TRANSCRIPT
Take a moment to consider the economy in which we live in. The global economy, the US economy, the Colorado economy. The connections between all the different parts. It’s kind of mind boggling amount of complexity. The US produces about 20 trillion dollars of goods and services every year, and those are just the ones we count, we miss plenty along the way. I’ve been fortunate to work in my career on some pretty big, complicated models to try and make sense out of that: two, three, four thousand variables. But what becomes clearer the further you dive into that type of work is it gets more and more difficult every variable you add.
Here’s a pretty preeminent economic forecaster you may have heard of, Alan Greenspan, in charge of the US Federal Reserve for many years. He was being interviewed by one of my favorite newsmen, John Stewart, and he said basically, “Look, if I can do all of these fancy equations, I can get all these variables, but if you could just tell me how people feel, how they are reacting to the world around them, what’s their emotional mood that day, I could really start to make sense out of the economy.” And this was kind of the challenge that — I was on a team that just decided to take this on. Can we start to figure out how does the country feel today? How does Colorado feel today? And so, this is the work that we started to dive into, and I’m happy to share today with you a few of the things that we’ve started to discover.
So, the first thing that I often get asked is well, if you’re using things like Twitter data, social media data, to figure out how we all feel, and come up with this index of the mood of the nation. Or isn’t that just polling? Why don’t you just call people on the phone and ask them how they feel, and then put it all together? Well, there is a few problems with that. One, raise your hand if you still have a land line at home. That’s going to be highly correlated to age. I just want to tell you I got rid of my land line 15 years ago; probably never going back.