For a long time I’ve wondered whether Google would start an investment arm that looked for insights in their search queries for inspiration. While they haven’t done exactly that, they did release Google Domestric Trends which tracks related searches across a number of different categories and allows you compare them to market growth. The Google Finance Blog explains:
Google Domestic Trends tracks Google search traffic across specific sectors of the economy. The changes in the search volume of a given sector on google.com may provide useful economic insight. We have created 23 indexes that track the major economic sectors, such as retail, auto and unemployment. Each index value is baselined at 1.0 on January 1, 2004 and is calculated and displayed on the Google Finance charts as a 7-day moving average. You can easily compare actual stocks and market indexes to these Google Trends on the charts.
Hal Varian, chief economist for Google, has more to say on the subject, specifically his work looking at unemployment statistics (also check out the year-on-year change from unemployment searches). This is going to be fun to play with.