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Are the Fed’s Inflation Forecasts Still Superior to the Private Sector’s?

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Author Info

  • Edward N. Gamber

    ()
    (Department of Economics and Business, Lafayette College)

  • Julie K. Smith

    ()
    (Department of Economics and Business,Lafayette College)

Abstract

We examine the relative improvement in forecasting accuracy of the Federal Reserve (Greenbook forecasts) and private-sector forecasts (the Survey of Professional Forecasters and Blue Chip Economic Indicators) for inflation. Previous research by Romer and Romer (2000), and Sims (2002) shows that the Fed is more accurate than the private sector at forecasting inflation. In a separate line of research, Atkeson and Ohanian (2001) and Stock and Watson (2007) document changes in the forecastability of inflation since the Great Moderation. These works suggest that the reduced inflation variability associated with Great Moderation was mostly due to a decline in the variability of the predictable component inflation. We hypothesize that the decline in the variability of the predictable component of inflation has evened the playing field between the Fed and private sector and therefore led to a narrowing, if not disappearance, of the Fed’s relative forecasting advantage. We find that the Fed’s forecast errors remain significantly smaller than the private sector’s but the gap has narrowed considerable since the mid-1980s, especially after 1994.

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File URL: http://www.gwu.edu/~forcpgm/2007-002.pdf
File Function: First version, 2007
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File URL: http://www.gwu.edu/~forcpgm/2007-002.pdf
File Function: Revised version, 2008
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The George Washington University, Department of Economics, Research Program on Forecasting in its series Working Papers with number 2007-002.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2007
Date of revision: Jul 2008
Publication status: Forthcoming in the Journal of Macroeconomics
Handle: RePEc:gwc:wpaper:2007-002

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Keywords: forecasting inflation; Survey of Professional Forecasters; Blue Chip forecasts; Greenbook forecasts; naïve forecasts;

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References

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  1. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2003. "Has the Business Cycle Changed and Why?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2002, Volume 17, pages 159-230 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Chang-Jin Kim & Charles Nelson & Jeremy M. Piger, 2003. "The less volatile U.S. economy: a Bayesian investigation of timing, breadth, and potential explanations," Working Papers 2001-016, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  3. Cukierman, Alex, 2007. "The Limits of Transparency," CEPR Discussion Papers 6475, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Margaret M. McConnell & Gabriel Perez Quiros, 1997. "Output fluctuations in the United States: what has changed since the early 1980s?," Research Paper 9735, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  5. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2007. "Erratum to "Why Has U.S. Inflation Become Harder to Forecast?"," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(7), pages 1849-1849, October.
  6. James A. Kahn & Margaret M. McConnell & Gabriel Perez-Quiros, 2002. "On the causes of the increased stability of the U.S. economy," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue May, pages 183-202.
  7. D'Agostino, Antonello & Domenico, Giannone & Surico, Paolo, 2006. "(Un)Predictability and Macroeconomic Stability," Research Technical Papers 5/RT/06, Central Bank of Ireland.
  8. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2006. "Why Has U.S. Inflation Become Harder to Forecast?," NBER Working Papers 12324, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Ray C. Fair & Robert J. Shiller, 1988. "The Informational Content of Ex Ante Forecasts," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 857, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  10. Tara Sinclair & H. O. Stekler & L. Kitzinger, 2010. "Directional forecasts of GDP and inflation: a joint evaluation with an application to Federal Reserve predictions," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(18), pages 2289-2297.
  11. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2003. "Has the business cycle changed?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 9-56.
  12. Harvey, David & Leybourne, Stephen & Newbold, Paul, 1997. "Testing the equality of prediction mean squared errors," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 281-291, June.
  13. David H. Romer & Christina D. Romer, 2000. "Federal Reserve Information and the Behavior of Interest Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 429-457, June.
  14. Olivier Blanchard & John Simon, 2001. "The Long and Large Decline in U.S. Output Volatility," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(1), pages 135-174.
  15. David Reifschneider & Peter Tulip, 2007. "Gauging the uncertainty of the economic outlook from historical forecasting errors," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-60, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  16. Jon Faust & Jonathan H. Wright, 2007. "Comparing Greenbook and Reduced Form Forecasts using a Large Realtime Dataset," NBER Working Papers 13397, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2008. "The FOMC versus the Staff: Where Can Monetary Policymakers Add Value?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 230-35, May.
  18. Christopher A. Sims, 2002. "The Role of Models and Probabilities in the Monetary Policy Process," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(2), pages 1-62.
  19. Andrew Atkeson & Lee E. Ohanian., 2001. "Are Phillips curves useful for forecasting inflation?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 2-11.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. El-Shagi, Makram & Giesen, Sebastian & Jung, Alexander, 2014. "Does the federal reserve staff still beat private forecasters?," Working Paper Series 1635, European Central Bank.
  2. Henning Fischer & Marta García-Bárzana & Peter Tillmann & Peter Winker, 2012. "Evaluating FOMC forecast ranges: an interval data approach," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201213, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
  3. Jakob de Haan & David-Jan Jansen, 2009. "The communication policy of the European Central Bank: An overview of the first decade," DNB Working Papers 212, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  4. Kishor N. Kundan, 2010. "The Superiority of Greenbook Forecasts and the Role of Recessions," National Bank of Poland Working Papers 74, National Bank of Poland, Economic Institute.
  5. João Valle e Azevedo, 2011. "Rational vs. professional forecasts," Economic Bulletin and Financial Stability Report Articles, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
  6. Liu, Dandan & Smith, Julie K., 2014. "Inflation forecasts and core inflation measures: Where is the information on future inflation?," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 133-137.
  7. B. Onur Tas, 2012. "Federal Reserve Private Information in Forecasting Interest Rates," Working Papers 1206, TOBB University of Economics and Technology, Department of Economics.
  8. Jung, Alexander & El-Shagi, Makram & Giesen, Sebastian, 2013. "Does Central Bank Staff Beat Private Forecasters?," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79925, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  9. Paul Hubert, 2011. "Do central banks forecast influence private agents ? Forecasting performance vs. signals," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2011-20, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
  10. Ellis, Michael A. & Liu, Dandan, 2013. "Do FOMC forecasts add value to staff forecasts?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 332-340.
  11. Paul Hubert, 2010. "Monetary Policy, Imperfect Information and the Expectations Channel," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/f4rshpf3v1u, Sciences Po.

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