Using the site: https://www.data.gov/data-policy, browse datasets for an area of interest, and discuss how you would go about using multivariate statistics to test for relationships between variables. How would your hypotheses be worded?
Review the following site on factor analysis at: http://www.statsoft.com/Textbook/Principal-Components-Factor-Analysis. Then, in your field of study, identify how you might utilize factor analysis to reduce the number of variables that would be involved in a multivariate analysis of a large dataset, and how you may empirically group indicators into a smaller set.
Examine a dataset on monthly and annual retail trade at: http://www.census.gov/retail/marts/www/timeseries.html. Discuss how you would go about tracking relevant trends using these data, and how you could frame your study to better understand what factors affect spending rates.