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A Simple Explanation of the Forecast Combination Puzzle

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  • Jeremy Smith
  • Kenneth F. Wallis

Abstract

This article presents a formal explanation of the forecast combination puzzle, that simple combinations of point forecasts are repeatedly found to outperform sophisticated weighted combinations in empirical applications. The explanation lies in the effect of finite-sample error in estimating the combining weights. A small Monte Carlo study and a reappraisal of an empirical study by Stock and Watson ["Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Economic Quarterly" (2003) Vol. 89/3, pp. 71-90] support this explanation. The Monte Carlo evidence, together with a large-sample approximation to the variance of the combining weight, also supports the popular recommendation to ignore forecast error covariances in estimating the weight. Copyright (c) Blackwell Publishing Ltd and the Department of Economics, University of Oxford, 2009.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeremy Smith & Kenneth F. Wallis, 2009. "A Simple Explanation of the Forecast Combination Puzzle," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 71(3), pages 331-355, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:obuest:v:71:y:2009:i:3:p:331-355
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Clark, Todd E. & McCracken, Michael W., 2001. "Tests of equal forecast accuracy and encompassing for nested models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 85-110, November.
    2. Clark, Todd E. & West, Kenneth D., 2006. "Using out-of-sample mean squared prediction errors to test the martingale difference hypothesis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 135(1-2), pages 155-186.
    3. West, Kenneth D, 1996. "Asymptotic Inference about Predictive Ability," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(5), pages 1067-1084, September.
    4. Clemen, Robert T., 1989. "Combining forecasts: A review and annotated bibliography," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 559-583.
    5. Kenneth F. Wallis, 2005. "Combining Density and Interval Forecasts: A Modest Proposal," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 67(s1), pages 983-994, December.
    6. Mark W. Watson & James H. Stock, 2004. "Combination forecasts of output growth in a seven-country data set," Journal of Forecasting, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(6), pages 405-430.
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