"...measurement shortfall in the small-business sector, and a series of other information gaps in the economy, may be overcome by what experts say is an emerging data revolution - Big Data, in the current catchphrase. The ever-expanding universe of digital signals of behavior, from browsing and buying on the Web to cellphone location data, is grist for potential breakthroughs in economic measurement. It could produce more accurate forecasting and more informed policymaking - more science and less guesswork.
"We're seeing the emergence of new sets of data and knowledge that we've never had before," says James Poterba, president of the National Bureau of Economic Research and a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "It's a real opportunity for policymakers."