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Why The Composite Index Of Leading Indicators Does Not Lead

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  • EVAN F. KOENIG
  • KENNETH M. EMERY

Abstract

This paper assesses the real‐time performance of the Commerce Department's composite index of leading indicators. The authors find that the composite leading index has failed to provide reliable advance warning of cyclical turning points. One reason for this failure is that the leading index's transition from expansion to contraction generally is not very sharp. Consequently, discerning real‐time cyclical peaks in the index is difficult. Transitions from contraction to expansion on average are sharp. However, cyclical troughs in the leading index often precede cyclical troughs in the economy by only a few months. Thus, even timely recognition of troughs in the leading index fails to provide advance warning of turnarounds in the general level of economic activity.

Suggested Citation

  • Evan F. Koenig & Kenneth M. Emery, 1994. "Why The Composite Index Of Leading Indicators Does Not Lead," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 12(1), pages 52-66, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:coecpo:v:12:y:1994:i:1:p:52-66
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1465-7287.1994.tb00412.x
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1465-7287.1994.tb00412.x
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    1. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1992. "A procedure for predicting recessions with leading indicators: econometric issues and recent performance," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 92-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    2. Diebold, Francis X & Rudebusch, Glenn D, 1989. "Scoring the Leading Indicators," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62(3), pages 369-391, July.
    3. Diebold, Francis X & Rudebusch, Glenn D, 1990. "A Nonparametric Investigation of Duration Dependence in the American Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 596-616, June.
    4. Saul H. Hymans, 1973. "On the Use of Leading Indicators to Predict Cyclical Turning Points," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 4(2), pages 339-384.
    5. Emery, Kenneth M. & Koenig, Evan F., 1992. "Forecasting turning points : Is a two-state characterization of the business cycle appropriate?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 431-435, August.
    6. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1993. "A Procedure for Predicting Recessions with Leading Indicators: Econometric Issues and Recent Experience," NBER Chapters, in: Business Cycles, Indicators, and Forecasting, pages 95-156, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gregory W. Huffman, 1994. "A primer on the nature of business cycles," Economic and Financial Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue Q I, pages 27-41.
    2. Sergey V. Smirnov & Daria A. Avdeeva, 2016. "Wishful Bias in Predicting Us Recessions: Indirect Evidence," HSE Working papers WP BRP 135/EC/2016, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    3. Franklin D. Berger & Keith R. Phillips, 1994. "Solving the mystery of the disappearing January blip in state employment data," Economic and Financial Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue Q II, pages 53-62.
    4. Franklin D. Berger & Keith R. Phillips, 1994. "The disappearing January blip and other state employment mysteries," Working Papers 9403, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    5. Keith R. Phillips & Lucinda Vargas & Victor Zarnowitz, 1996. "New tools for analyzing the Mexican economy: indexes of coincident and leading economic indicators," Economic and Financial Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue Q II.

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