IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Uncertainty and Economic Activity: Evidence from Business Survey Data

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

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)

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 5 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 217-49

in new window

Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:5:y:2013:i:2:p:217-49
Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.5.2.217
Contact details of provider: Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Yan Bai & Patrick Kehoe & Cristina Arellano, 2011. "Financial Markets and Fluctuations in Uncertainty," 2011 Meeting Papers 896, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Lutz Kilian, 1998. "Small-Sample Confidence Intervals For Impulse Response Functions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(2), pages 218-230, May.
  3. Christopher Otrok & Andre Kurmann, 2010. "News Shocks and the Slope of the Term Structure of Interest Rates," 2010 Meeting Papers 72, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Catherine Fuss & Philip Vermeulen, 2008. "Firms' investment decisions in response to demand and price uncertainty," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(18), pages 2337-2351.
  5. Nicholas Bloom & Max Floetotto & Nir Jaimovich & Itay Saporta-Eksten & Stephen J. Terry, 2012. "Really Uncertain Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 18245, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Michelle Alexopoulos & Jon Cohen, 2009. "Uncertain Times, uncertain measures," Working Papers tecipa-352, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  7. Guiso, L. & Parigi, G., 1996. "Investment and Demand Uncertainty," Papers 289, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
  8. Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde & Pablo Guerron-Quintana & Juan F. Rubio-Ramírez & Martin Uribe, 2009. "Risk Matters: The Real Effects of Volatility Shocks," PIER Working Paper Archive 09-013, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  9. Sascha O. Becker & Klaus Wohlrabe, 2008. "European Data Watch: Micro Data at the Ifo Institute for Economic Research – The “Ifo Business Survey”, Usage and Access," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 128(2), pages 307-319.
  10. Simon Gilchrist & Vladimir Yankov & Egon Zakrajsek, 2009. "Credit Market Shocks and Economic Fluctuations: Evidence from Corporate Bond and Stock Markets," NBER Working Papers 14863, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Adina Popescu & Frank Rafael Smets, 2010. "Uncertainty, Risk-taking, and the Business Cycle in Germany," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 56(4), pages 596-626, December.
  12. Nicholas Bloom, 2007. "The Impact of Uncertainty Shocks," NBER Working Papers 13385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Robert Rich & Joseph Tracy, 2006. "The relationship between expected inflation, disagreement, and uncertainty: evidence from matched point and density forecasts," Staff Reports 253, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  14. Bomberger, William A, 1996. "Disagreement as a Measure of Uncertainty," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(3), pages 381-92, August.
  15. Robert B. Barsky & Eric R. Sims, 2009. "News Shocks," NBER Working Papers 15312, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Sascha O. Becker & Klaus Wohlrabe, 2007. "Micro Data at the Ifo Institute for Economic Research – The “Ifo Business Survey”, Usage and Access," Ifo Working Paper Series Ifo Working Paper No. 47, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  17. Ruediger Bachmann & Christian Bayer, 2009. "Firm-Specific Productivity Risk over the Business Cycle: Facts and Aggregate Implications," CESifo Working Paper Series 2844, CESifo Group Munich.
  18. Robert B. Barsky & Eric R. Sims, 2012. "Information, Animal Spirits, and the Meaning of Innovations in Consumer Confidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1343-77, June.
  19. repec:aeq:aeqsjb:v128:y2008:i2:q2:p307-319 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Ramey, Valerie A. & Shapiro, Matthew D., 1998. "Costly capital reallocation and the effects of government spending," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 145-194, June.
  21. Sims, Christopher A & Stock, James H & Watson, Mark W, 1990. "Inference in Linear Time Series Models with Some Unit Roots," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(1), pages 113-44, January.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Uncertainty and Economic Activity: Evidence from Business Survey Data (AEJ:MA 2013) in ReplicationWiki

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:5:y:2013:i:2:p:217-49. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros)

or (Michael P. Albert)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.