National Accounts in a World of Naturally Occurring Data: A Proof of Concept for Consumption
This paper provides the first proof of concept that naturally occurring transaction data, arising from the decentralized activity of millions of economic agents, can be harnessed to produce national accounts-like objects. We deploy comprehensive transaction-level data and its associated metadata arising from the universe of Spanish retail accounts of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA). We organize the resulting 3 billion individual transactions by 1.8 million bank customers in a large and highly detailed representative consumption panel to show (i) that the aggregation of such data, once organized according to national accounting principles, can reproduce current official statistics on aggregate consumption in the national accounts with a high degree of precision and, as a result of the richness of transaction data, (ii) produce novel, highly detailed distributional accounts for consumption. Finally, exploiting the panel nature of our data, we (iii) offer a non-parametric analysis of individual consumption dynamics across the consumption distribution.