Chart of the WeekBrave New World: Tracking Trade from Space

By Serkan Arslanalp, Robin Koepke, and Jasper Verschuur When the onset of the pandemic drastically changed economic conditions across the globe, policymakers with access to real-time economic data were much better placed to make quick, informed policy decisions. A new world of big data is now unfolding, where satellites orbiting in space are helping to inform economic decisions—both for industry and policymakers. New IMF staff research shows that some of the large data gaps routinely faced by small fragile states could be filled using satellite data. Specifically, trade volumes can be measured and tracked in real time, which is a critical input for policy decisions. For example, as shown in our latest chart of the week, this method of tracking trade could have highlighted trade and supply-chain disruptions to the Pacific region well before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic in March 2020. In the case of Pacific island countries, the research shows that although these nations managed to insulate themselves from COVID-19 infections by closing their borders, they were not insulated from the economic repercussions of the pandemic, especially in early 2020. All countries experienced sharp import contractions in the early stages of the pandemic, due to supply disruptions related to … Continue reading Chart of the WeekBrave New World: Tracking Trade from Space