When first published, many economic data are initially provisional, as they are partly based on estimates. They are thus subject to later statistical revision, which means that the results for the same reporting period may change over time. Real-time datasets store the vintages of macroeconomic time series in chronological order. This makes it possible to analyse how prone economic indicators are to revision and to track the "revision history" of the results of individual periods, for example. It also allows a precise reconstruction of the information base at a given point in time in the past.
At present, the macroeconomic real-time database for the German economy contains historical vintages of about 280 economic indicators from the national accounts, the monthly business and labour market surveys, as well as the price statistics, where available both unadjusted and adjusted for seasonal and/or calendar effects. There are plans to incorporate data from other accounting systems.
The period over which past vintages are recorded varies from indicator to indicator. Generally, the vintages - marked with the precise date of publication - are available in their entirety from May 2005 in the case of the national accounts and from November 2005 in the case of the monthly economic indicators. For key economic variables (such as gross domestic product and its expenditure structure, industrial production and orders inflow), the data go back to the beginning of reporting for Germany as a whole. The database is being constantly updated.
The data may be used by commentators on current economic developments and by economics researchers alike. Its flexible structure provides a large number of search options and tailored exports of data. The vintages can also be output directly as tables and shown in graph form.