Presented by Vasco M. Carvalho (University of Cambridge)
We exploit high-frequency/high-resolution transaction data from BBVA, the second-largest bank in Spain, to analyse the dynamics and cross section of expenditure in Spain with an application to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our main dataset consists of the universe of BBVA-mediated sales transactions from both credit cards and point-of-sales terminals, and totals 1.4 billion individual transactions since 2019. This dataset provides a unique opportunity to study the impact of the ongoing crisis in Spain – and the policies put in place to control it – on a daily basis. We find little shift in expenditure prior to the national lockdown, but then immediate, very large, and sustained expenditure reductions thereafter. Transaction metadata also allows us to study variation in these reductions across geography, sectors, and mode of sale (e.g. online/offline). We conclude that transaction data captures many salient patterns in how an economy reacts to shocks in real time, which makes its potential value to policy makers and researchers high.