Russia Monthly Index

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Newspaper coverage of policy-related economic uncertainty

To measure policy-related economic uncertainty for Russia, we construct an index based on frequency counts of newspaper articles.

Our index method follows the same basic approach as we apply to American newspapers in constructing an index of policy-related economic uncertainty for the United States. For Russia, we use the newspaper Kommersant, a nationally distributed daily paper focused primarily on economics and politics. We may expand the index to include other Russian newspapers in the future.

As with our U.S. index, we count the number of newspaper articles containing the terms uncertain or uncertainty, economic or economy, and one or more policy terms. We scale this frequency count by the total number of articles in the same newspaper and month. Our policy terms include the Russian language equivalents of 'policy', 'tax', 'spending', 'regulation', 'central bank', 'law', terms relating to political institutions like the Duma, 'budget', and other terms. We interpolate to obtain the January 1997 and January 1999 index values, because the digital newspaper archive that we use covers few days in those two months. We normalize our Russian index of economic policy uncertainty to a mean value of 100 prior to 2012.

With each monthly update, data from the preceding two months may be revised slightly, as well. This is driven by the fact that some online newspapers do not immediately update their online archives with all articles, leading to slightly changing totals for the previous 1-2 months.

We also construct several indicators of newspaper attention to prominent episodes and concerns in recent Russian history. The slides above on "Recent Episodes in Russian History" report indicators for newspaper attention to "Ukraine", "Chechnya", "Credit Crunch", and "Russian Financial Crisis". To construct these indicators, we compute a monthly frequency count of newspaper articles about the topic in question and scale it by to the total number of newspaper articles in the same month. For instance, the 'Ukraine' indicators is based on scaled frequency count of articles mentioning 'Ukraine' or 'Ukrainian'.

We would like to thank Olga Deriy and Vladimir Dashkeev for their help in developing our Russian EPU index. Given the 'beta' nature of our Russian index, we welcome any comments or suggestions for how to improve the index.