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Uncertainty and Economic Activity: Evidence from Business Survey Data

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  • R?diger Bachmann
  • Steffen Elstner
  • Eric R. Sims

Abstract

This paper uses survey expectations data to construct empirical proxies for time-varying business-level uncertainty. Access to the micro data from the German IFO Business Climate Survey permits construction of uncertainty measures based on both ex ante disagreement and ex post forecast errors. Ex ante disagreement is strongly correlated with dispersion in ex post forecast errors. Surprise movements in either measure lead to significant reductions in production that abate fairly quickly. We extend our analysis to US data, measuring uncertainty with forecast disagreement from the Business Outlook Survey. Surprise increases in forecast dispersion lead to more persistent reductions in production than in the German data. (JEL C53, C83, D81, E23, E27, E32, E37)

Suggested Citation

  • R?diger Bachmann & Steffen Elstner & Eric R. Sims, 2013. "Uncertainty and Economic Activity: Evidence from Business Survey Data," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 217-249, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:5:y:2013:i:2:p:217-49
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.5.2.217
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • E27 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E37 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications

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