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Unemployment Expectations and the Business Cycle

  • Tortorice Daniel Louis

    ()

    (Brandeis University)

I compare unemployment expectations from the Michigan Survey of Consumers to VAR forecastable movements in unemployment. I document three key facts: First, one-half to one-third of the population expects unemployment to rise when it is falling at the end of a recession, even though the VAR predicts the fall in unemployment. Second, more people expect unemployment to rise when it is falling at the end of a recession than expect it to rise when it is rising at the beginning of a recession even though the VAR predicts these changes. Finally, the lag change in unemployment is almost as important as the VAR forecast in predicting the fraction of the population that expects unemployment to rise. Professional forecasters do not exhibit these discrepancies. Least squares learning or real time expectations do little to help explain these facts. However, delayed updating of expectations can explain some of these facts, and extrapolative expectations explains these facts best. Individuals with higher income or education are only slightly less likely to have expectations which differ from the VAR, and those whose expect more unemployment when the VAR predicts otherwise are 8-10 percent more likely to believe it is a bad time to make a major purchase.

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Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 12 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 1-49

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejmac:v:12:y:2012:i:1:n:1
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  1. Athanasios Orphanides & Simon van Norden, 1999. "The Reliability of Output Gap Estimates in Real Time," Macroeconomics 9907006, EconWPA.
  2. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2002. "The 6D Bias and the Equity-Premium Puzzle," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2001, Volume 16, pages 257-330 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Dean Croushore & Tom Stark, 1999. "A real-time data set for macroeconomists," Working Papers 99-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  4. Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Olivier Coibion, 2010. "What can survey forecasts tell us about informational rigidities?," 2010 Meeting Papers 277, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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