The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has launched an Internet-based resource to measure price changes from around the world and to give real-time inflation estimates.
In what is called the Billion Prices Project, MIT’s researchers monitor more than 5 million prices of items sold by online retailers from around the world, as well as computing inflation statistics on a daily basis.
The price data collected are from categories such as food and beverages, household products, electronics, apparel and real estate. MIT tracks prices in more than 50 countries and currently publishes data for a smaller subset of countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Italy, Turkey and Venezuela.
According to Professor Roberto Rigobon of the MIT Sloan School of Management, the project provides pricing data at much greater speed than conventional inflation indexes, but also in greater detail across countries. MIT’s inflation indexes also offer a real-time indicator of economic conditions, says Rigobon.