The Economic Research Service (ERS) takes the lead role in preparing the International Macroeconomic Data Set providing annual economic indicators for 181 countries that account for nearly 99 percent of the world economy.
These macroeconomic data and projections are assembled by the ERS Macroeconomic Team to serve as underlying assumptions for the annually updated USDA’s long-term agricultural projections. Also known as the USDA Baseline, the projections provide a 10-year supply, demand, and trade outlook for major agricultural commodities in the United States and selected countries.
The macroeconomic assumptions are calculated by the ERS Macroeconomic Team based on data compiled from multiple private forecast subscription services, the U.S. Government, international agencies’ projections, and the USDA, Economic Research Service, Market and Trade Economics Division’s regional and country experts. The results of these compiled annual macroeconomic data are a unique set that serves as a common reference point across U.S. Government agencies.
The macroeconomic data set includes both historical and projected data for population, gross domestic product (GDP), consumer price index (CPI)—a measure of inflation—and exchange rates. Macroeconomic variables are presented for individual countries, plus the European Union (EU), and various other regional and economic aggregations developed by the ERS Macroeconomic Team to support the USDA Baseline analysis. The projections assume no policy changes and no additional shocks (e.g., political crises, major conflicts, disease outbreaks).
The macroeconomic projections are completed by the ERS Macroeconomic Team in August of every year and the data set (including the historical data going back to the year 2000 and the 10-year projection), are released every January of the following year.
The Baseline’s macroeconomic projections describe the long-term scenario that is used as a benchmark for analyzing the impacts of alternative scenarios and macroeconomic shocks. Users can view and download historical and projection data. The projections are important to applied economic work in public and private sectors. The Baseline’s macroeconomic assumptions are used not only for the annual USDA Baseline report and ERS data sets they are also used by ERS trade outlook analysts, ERS research analysts, and analysts in the private sector who incorporate the assumptions into their own analytical work.
Various criteria are used in selecting countries included in the macroeconomic data set. First, countries included must reflect the bulk of U.S. agricultural exports for each commodity in the USDA Baseline. In all cases, more than 90 percent of U.S. exports are represented by the countries chosen. A second objective is to have representative coverage of regions around the world. The International Macroeconomic Data Set of long-term assumptions for individual countries also include ERS’ particular economic classifications developed to support the USDA Baseline analysis:
- Developed countries: Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Other Western Europe, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States
- Developing countries: Africa, Middle East, Other Oceania, Asia (excluding Japan), Latin America
- Low-income developing countries: Haiti, Afghanistan, Nepal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Republic of The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, United Republic of Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zimbabwe
- Emerging markets: Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Russia, China, India, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore
- BRIICs: An acronym for the five economies of Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China
- USMCA: An acronym for the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement between the named countries
- Other South America: Chile, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay
- Former centrally-planned economies: Republic of Cyprus, Malta, Recently-Acceded Countries, Other Central Europe, the Former Soviet Union
- Europe and Central Asia: Europe, the Former Soviet Union
- Middle East and North Africa: Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco
- Other Southeast Asia: Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam
ERS does not independently project macroeconomic variables; the Macroeconomic Team bases the projections on forecasts and projections prepared by other U.S. Government agencies and forecasts informed by proprietary data sources. In addition, the ERS Macroeconomic Team receives input from ERS’ country and regional trade analysts working on the development of the international component of the long-term Baseline.
The USDA Baseline’s macroeconomic projections are based on annual growth rates collected and estimated each year. For each individual country and regional aggregates, annual historical data are available for all variables from 2000 (first historical year) to 2021 (the most recent available year) and each variable is projected forward to 2022–2033. Data are in constant 2015 U.S. dollars. Macroeconomic variables—historical and projected—are reported in “value terms” and “annual growth rates.”
Key variables compiled by the ERS Macroeconomic Team include:
- Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (constant 2015 U.S. dollars), which measures the value of the goods and services produced in the country;
- Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Deflator (2015 base year), which measures changes in the prices of goods and services domestically produced;
- Real Exchange Rates (2015 base year), calculated from nominal exchange rates (the price of a country currency in terms of U.S. dollars) and the ratio of national to U.S. consumer price indexes;
- Consumer Price Index (CPI) (2015 base year), a key measure of inflation, calculated to include food, housing, gas, transportation, and a wide range of other goods and services; and
- Population, based on the demographic data reported by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Population totals refers to all residents living in the country in July, each year.
All other elements of the data set are calculated from these variables to include annual values and annual growth rates for:
- Real GDP per capita (constant 2015 U.S. dollars), is calculated from real GDP values and the population values; and
- GDP share values, which measures each country’s GDP share in regional, economic, and global aggregate classifications.
The initial step for developing the macroeconomic assumptions is to update the historical data. This involves updating the data set with the most recent year’s information, but it also means incorporating revisions of the last 2-3 annual data points of previous years’ data series.
The new information collected each year for GDP, GDP Deflator, Nominal Exchange Rates, and CPI relies on annual percent changes for the data sources and/or ERS country experts; these annual percent changes are then used to complete the value series. For the Population series, actual values are used to calculate annual changes.
Economic variables projections are compared across sources with missing values from these data sources filled in using information from proprietary data source. ERS country analysts will also adjust the first 3–4 annual data points of the projections based on their knowledge of the current situation in each country. Macroeconomic analysts will define the smooth transition to the long-run growth rate for the last 4 years of the projections.
Strengths and Limitations
The ERS macroeconomic projections represent the most comprehensive up-to-date data set of annual key economic variables that are most useful to understand overall economic conditions in the United States and abroad. The value of the data set is reflected on the scope of the comparative statistics which includes GDP, exchange rates, and CPI from 2000 through 2031. Added value of the macroeconomics data set is reflected in its extensive geographical coverage which includes 181 countries, the completeness of the series (absent of data gaps), and in the ease of access as users can download the country and regional projections in Excel from the ERS website.
The Baseline macroeconomic projections are based on specific long-term assumptions critical for U.S. and international macroeconomic conditions. These projections prepared by the ERS Macroeconomic Team reflect a composite of projections released by other U.S. Government agencies, independent forecasting firms, and ERS analysts with extensive knowledge of the current situation in each country. The projections include policies in place or expected to be implemented as of the completion of the macroeconomic projections.
Since the USDA Baseline macroeconomic projections are meant to represent underlying trends, assuming no changes in policies and abstracting from business cycles, any diversion from current policies, farm legislation, and other specific assumptions after the Baseline macroeconomic projections are completed would not be reflected in the annual long-run scenario. Thus, a major limitation of this data product is that it does not account for policy/economic change that may occur in any given year of the projection period.
The sources used to generate the GDP and GDP Deflator series include the publicly-available projections from the World Bank’s World Development Indicators and the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) World Economic Outlook, and the International Financial Statistics. Additional sources of data include proprietary data sources. Estimated and projected values developed by the USDA, Economic Research Service’s country experts are used for selected Baseline countries.
GDP Deflator, CPI, and Exchange Rates for most countries are from proprietary data sources, and the IMF International Financial Statistics database, as well as estimated and projected values developed by the USDA Economic Research Service’s country experts. Population data for all countries are from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, International Database.
Other related sources include:
International Monetary Fund. 2021. “International Financial Statistics,” International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC. (accessed August 2021).
World Bank. 2021. “World Development Indicators,” World Bank, Washington, DC. (accessed August 2021).
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Chief Economist and U.S. Department of Agriculture, World Agricultural Outlook Board. 2021. “USDA Agricultural Projections to 2030,” Long-term Projections Report OCE-2021-1, U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Chief Economist, Washington DC. (accessed August 2021).
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. 2021. “Agricultural Baseline Database,” U.S. Department of Economic Research Service, Kansas City, MO. (accessed August 2021).
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. 2021. “Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade,” U.S. Department of Economic Research Service, Kansas City, MO. (accessed August 2021).
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. 2021. “Agricultural Exchange Rate Data Set,” U.S. Department of Economic Research Service, Kansas City, MO. (accessed August 2021).
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. International Macroeconomic Data Set.
 Developed countries is a United Nations Secretariat classification which groups countries according to their level of development as measured by the Human Development Index and their per capita gross national income (GNI) with levels above $12,695 per year.
 Other Western Europe includes Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.
 Developing countries is a United Nations Secretariat classification which groups countries according to their level of development as measured by the Human Development Index and their per capita gross national income (GNI) with levels between $4,096 and $12,695 per year.
 Middle East: Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey.
 Other Oceania: Fiji, Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu.
 Recently-Acceded Countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia.
 Other Central Europe: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Serbia.
 The Former Soviet Union: Russia, Ukraine.