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Why Has U.S. Inflation Become Harder to Forecast?

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  • James H. Stock
  • Mark W. Watson

Abstract

Forecasts of the rate of price inflation play a central role in the formulation of monetary policy, and forecasting inflation is a key job for economists at the Federal Reserve Board. This paper examines whether this job has become harder and, to the extent that it has, what changes in the inflation process have made it so. The main finding is that the univariate inflation process is well described by an unobserved component trend-cycle model with stochastic volatility or, equivalently, an integrated moving average process with time-varying parameters; this model explains a variety of recent univariate inflation forecasting puzzles. It appears currently to be difficult for multivariate forecasts to improve on forecasts made using this time-varying univariate model.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12324.

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Date of creation: Jun 2006
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12324

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  1. Harvey, A.C. & Trimbur, T.M. & van Dijk, H.K., 2005. "Trends and cycles in economic time series: A Bayesian approach," Econometric Institute Research Papers EI 2005-27, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus School of Economics (ESE), Econometric Institute.
  2. Andrew Ang & Geert Bekaert & Min Wei, 2005. "Do Macro Variables, Asset Markets or Surveys Forecast Inflation Better?," NBER Working Papers 11538, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2002. "Has the Business Cycle Changed and Why?," NBER Working Papers 9127, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Donald W.K. Andrews, 1990. "Tests for Parameter Instability and Structural Change with Unknown Change Point," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 943, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  5. Maarten Dossche & Gerdie Everaert, 2005. "Measuring inflation persistence: a structural time series approach," Working Paper Research 70, National Bank of Belgium.
  6. Nelson, Charles R & Schwert, G William, 1977. "Short-Term Interest Rates as Predictors of Inflation: On Testing the Hypothesis That the Real Rate of Interest is Constant," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 478-86, June.
  7. Robert B. Barsky, 1986. "The Fisher Hypothesis and the Forecastability and Persistence of Inflation," NBER Working Papers 1927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Jonas D. M. Fisher & Chin Te Liu & Ruilin Zhou, 2002. "When can we forecast inflation?," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q I, pages 32-44.
  9. Athanasios Orphanides & Simon van Norden, 2003. "The Reliability of Inflation Forecasts Based on Output Gap Estimates in Real Time," CIRANO Working Papers 2003s-01, CIRANO.
  10. Clark, Todd E. & McCracken, Michael W., 2006. "The Predictive Content of the Output Gap for Inflation: Resolving In-Sample and Out-of-Sample Evidence," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 38(5), pages 1127-1148, August.
  11. Stock, James H. & Watson, Mark W., 1999. "Forecasting inflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 293-335, October.
  12. Mavroeidis, Sophocles, 2005. "Identification Issues in Forward-Looking Models Estimated by GMM, with an Application to the Phillips Curve," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(3), pages 421-48, June.
  13. Harvey, A C, 1985. "Trends and Cycles in Macroeconomic Time Series," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(3), pages 216-27, June.
  14. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2001. "Forecasting output and inflation: the role of asset prices," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Mar.
  15. 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.
  16. Flint Brayton & John M. Roberts & John C. Williams, 1999. "What's happened to the Phillips curve?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-49, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  17. Arturo Estrella, 2005. "Why Does the Yield Curve Predict Output and Inflation?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(505), pages 722-744, 07.
  18. Pivetta, Frederic & Reis, Ricardo, 2007. "The persistence of inflation in the United States," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 1326-1358, April.
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  1. Bernanke: Inflation Expectations and Inflation Forecasting
    by Mark Thoma in Economist's View on 2007-07-10 20:08:00
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