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TitleUsing Data Buffet: Mnemonic 411
AuthorPhillip Thorne

The "Mnemonic 411" facility of Data Buffet provides metadata for individual time series and general information about the release; you can subscribe to notifications about series data and news updates.


If you need information about a time series or a dataset, go to Mnemonic 411 first.  It consolidates most of the metadata (applicable to individual series) and the long-form written documentation (applicable to groups of series) stored within Data Buffet.

Keep in mind: A single time series is named by a mnemonic; series that measure the same "what" for a different "where" share a concept code; it is concept codes (not mnemonics) that are organized on catalog pages; a family of series constitute a dataset and one more datasets constitute a release; releases originate from sources and are maintained by specialists at Moody's Analytics.

The Mnemonic 411 facility appears in a pop-up browser window outside the main DataBuffet.com window.  You can leave it open and search repeatedly.

What can you learn about a series in Mnemonic 411?

  • What are its properties (brief textual description, measurement units, "observed" attribute)?
  • When was it last updated, and when should I expect the next update?
  • Is there a corresponding forecast series?
  • Do I have access?
  • What is the nature of the dataset of which the series is part, including the industry classification, geographic scope, methodology?
  • Who publishes it?
  • Where can I find it in the DataBuffet.com standard catalog and any custom catalogs to which I have access?
  • Has the dataset undergone lifecycle events (changed, revised, or discontinued)?

How is the Mnemonic 411 window organized?

The upper panel may be collapsed or expanded using the "Search" and "Subscribe" toggle-buttons.  It contains:

  • Search: Enter a concept code and see what geographies are available; enter a geo code directly; search for a geo by name.
  • Subscribe: Register (or un-register) to receive email notifications of articles, series updates, and calendar changes.

The lower panel contains up to six tabs:

  • Overview: Metadata for the series, including description, measurement units, date range.
  • Documentation: Extensive written information about the release; for historical data, hyperlinks to the source and the specific release page.
  • Catalog: The catalog path ("bread crumbs") to each page where the concept is stored.
  • Calendar: The dates and times of the most recent update, plus all known upcoming dates ("advance release calendar"), and optional notes.
  • F.A.Q.s: The release specialist with contact details; lifecycle events for the release and related articles, as seen initially in Data Buffet News.
  • Equation Specs: Inputs, dependencies, etc. (for select forecasts only).

How do you use it?

A. There are two ways to open the Mnemonic 411 window.

1. If you have a mnemonic (concept code, dot, geo code; e.g., ET.US, FHOFHOPI.MABI, or WBKGEMTRMPAUM.IARG), enter it in the main search box, located in the upper-right corner of the Data Buffet window.  From the adjoining dropdown box, select "Mnemonic 411."  (There are five search modes, and the default "Search" mode takes only keywords, not mnemonics.)  Then press "Go."

Note: The search box rejects wild cards and geo lists.

2. If browsing through the catalog, drill down to a concept.  Right-click to open the context menu (left-click if your mouse is reversed), and pick "More Info."  This will open the Mnemonic 411 window ... but to specify a single series, you will need to select a geography.  Use the "Available Geographies" dropdown to pick a geo level (countries, states, ZIP codes, etc.), and the list box to pick a single area.  (This is the same workflow as when using the Geography Wizard.)

B. If the Mnemonic 411 window is already open, you can expand the "Search" panel to look up other series.  The search fields will offer suggestions.

C. To subscribe to content, press the blue "Subscribe" button at the top of the window.  This will expose two checkboxes.  The "Articles" option will send you emails linking back to Data Buffet News, whenever an article related to this time series is published.  With "Data Updates/Calendar Changes" the emails will notify you that the release has been updated, or that the release calendar has changed (e.g., if there's been a delay).

To return to the search mode, press the blue "Search" button.

D. For long-form written documentation, switch to the "Documentation" tab.  For additional information provided by the source, follow the hyperlinks in the "Release" and "Source" rows at the top, or look for "Further reading" towards the bottom.

E. The "Catalog" tab provides the location(s) of the series in DataBuffet.com.  It depicts the sequence of folders and sub-folders to the page; each node is a hyperlink that will transfer you to the main DataBuffet.com window.  A series may reside in multiple folders.  By examining a concept in context, you can understand its classification, additivity and alternatives.

F. For a forecast series, the Documentation tab describes the forecast model in general, not the particular indicator.  Instead, jump to the corresponding historical series from the Overview tab.  Properties of the forecast and its driver(s) may differ (frequency, adjustment), but the underlying definitions will be identical (scope, classification).

G. For forecast series, additional information is available elsewhere:

  • Model methodologies: In the Forecast Summary table and the Reference Files.
  • Scenario narratives: In the Geo Wizard, Forecast Summary table and Reference Files.