IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/intfor/v33y2017i2p543-559.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

How biased are U.S. government forecasts of the federal debt?

Author

Listed:
  • Ericsson, Neil R.

Abstract

Government debt and its forecasts attracted considerable attention during the recent financial crisis. The current paper analyzes potential biases in different U.S. government agencies’ one-year-ahead forecasts of U.S. gross federal debt over 1984–2012. Standard tests typically fail to detect biases in these forecasts. However, impulse indicator saturation (IIS) detects economically large and highly significant time-varying biases, particularly at turning points in the business cycle. These biases do not appear to be politically related. IIS defines a generic procedure for examining forecast properties; it explains why standard tests fail to detect bias; and it provides a mechanism for potentially improving forecasts.

Suggested Citation

  • Ericsson, Neil R., 2017. "How biased are U.S. government forecasts of the federal debt?," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 543-559.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:intfor:v:33:y:2017:i:2:p:543-559
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijforecast.2016.09.001
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169207016300905
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jeffrey Frankel, 2011. "Over-optimism in forecasts by official budget agencies and its implications," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(4), pages 536-562.
    2. Faust, Jon & Irons, John S., 1999. "Money, politics and the post-war business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 61-89, February.
    3. Jushan Bai & Pierre Perron, 1998. "Estimating and Testing Linear Models with Multiple Structural Changes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(1), pages 47-78, January.
    4. Andrew B. Martinez, 2011. "Comparing Government Forecasts of the United States’ Gross Federal Debt," Working Papers 2011-002, The George Washington University, Department of Economics, H. O. Stekler Research Program on Forecasting.
    5. Felix Pretis & Lea Schneider & Jason E. Smerdon & David F. Hendry, 2016. "Detecting Volcanic Eruptions In Temperature Reconstructions By Designed Break-Indicator Saturation," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(3), pages 403-429, July.
    6. Jacob A. Mincer & Victor Zarnowitz, 1969. "The Evaluation of Economic Forecasts," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Forecasts and Expectations: Analysis of Forecasting Behavior and Performance, pages 3-46, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Castle, Jennifer L. & Clements, Michael P. & Hendry, David F., 2015. "Robust approaches to forecasting," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 99-112.
    8. Holden, K & Peel, D A, 1990. "On Testing for Unbiasedness and Efficiency of Forecasts," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 58(2), pages 120-127, June.
    9. Marczak, Martyna & Proietti, Tommaso, 2016. "Outlier detection in structural time series models: The indicator saturation approach," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 180-202.
    10. Sinclair, Tara M. & Joutz, Fred & Stekler, H.O., 2010. "Can the Fed predict the state of the economy?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 28-32, July.
    11. Hendry, David F. & Mizon, Grayham E., 2014. "Unpredictability in economic analysis, econometric modeling and forecasting," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 182(1), pages 186-195.
    12. Vere-Jones, David, 1995. "Forecasting earthquakes and earthquake risk," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 503-538, December.
    13. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2008. "The FOMC versus the Staff: Where Can Monetary Policymakers Add Value?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 230-235, May.
    14. Tara M. Sinclair & H. O. Stekler & Warren Carnow, 2012. "A new approach for evaluating economic forecasts," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 32(3), pages 2332-2342.
    15. Morris Goldstein & Graciela Kaminsky & Carmen Reinhart, 2017. "Methodology and Empirical Results," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: TRADE CURRENCIES AND FINANCE, chapter 11, pages 397-436, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    16. Ericsson, Neil R., 2017. "How biased are U.S. government forecasts of the federal debt?," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 543-559.
    17. Hendry, David F. & Johansen, Søren, 2015. "Model Discovery And Trygve Haavelmo’S Legacy," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(1), pages 93-114, February.
    18. Ericsson, Neil R & Marquez, Jaime, 1993. "Encompassing the Forecasts of U.S. Trade Balance Models," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(1), pages 19-31, February.
    19. Neil Ericsson & Erica Reisman, 2012. "Evaluating a Global Vector Autoregression for Forecasting," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 18(3), pages 247-258, August.
    20. Jennifer L. Castle & Jurgen A. Doornik & David F. Hendry & Felix Pretis, 2015. "Detecting Location Shifts during Model Selection by Step-Indicator Saturation," Econometrics, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(2), pages 1-25, April.
    21. David F. Hendry & Felix Pretis, 2013. "Anthropogenic influences on atmospheric CO2," Chapters, in: Roger Fouquet (ed.), Handbook on Energy and Climate Change, chapter 12, pages 287-326, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    22. H. O. Stekler, 1967. "The Federal Budget as a Short-Term Forecasting Tool," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 40, pages 280-280.
    23. Neil R. Ericsson & David F. Hendry & Kevin M. Prestwich, 1998. "The Demand for Broad Money in the United Kingdom, 1878–1993," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 100(1), pages 289-324, March.
    24. Fildes, Robert & Stekler, Herman, 2002. "The state of macroeconomic forecasting," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 435-468, December.
    25. Søren Johansen & Bent Nielsen, 2016. "Asymptotic Theory of Outlier Detection Algorithms for Linear Time Series Regression Models," Scandinavian Journal of Statistics, Danish Society for Theoretical Statistics;Finnish Statistical Society;Norwegian Statistical Association;Swedish Statistical Association, vol. 43(2), pages 321-348, June.
    26. Stekler, H O, 1972. "An Analysis of Turning Point Forecasts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 724-729, September.
    27. Castle, Jennifer L. & Doornik, Jurgen A. & Hendry, David F., 2012. "Model selection when there are multiple breaks," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 169(2), pages 239-246.
    28. Diebold, Francis X & Mariano, Roberto S, 2002. "Comparing Predictive Accuracy," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(1), pages 134-144, January.
    29. Søren Johansen & Bent Nielsen, 2016. "Rejoinder: Asymptotic Theory of Outlier Detection Algorithms for Linear Time Series Regression Models," Scandinavian Journal of Statistics, Danish Society for Theoretical Statistics;Finnish Statistical Society;Norwegian Statistical Association;Swedish Statistical Association, vol. 43(2), pages 374-381, June.
    30. Fildes, Robert & Stekler, Herman, 2002. "Reply to the comments on 'The state of macroeconomic forecasting'," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 503-505, December.
    31. Tsuchiya, Yoichi, 2013. "Are government and IMF forecasts useful? An application of a new market-timing test," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 118(1), pages 118-120.
    32. Carlos Santos & David Hendry & Soren Johansen, 2008. "Automatic selection of indicators in a fully saturated regression," Computational Statistics, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 317-335, April.
    33. Yock Y. Chong & David F. Hendry, 1986. "Econometric Evaluation of Linear Macro-Economic Models," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(4), pages 671-690.
    34. Søren Johansen & Bent Nielsen, 2013. "Outlier Detection in Regression Using an Iterated One-Step Approximation to the Huber-Skip Estimator," Econometrics, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 1(1), pages 1-18, May.
    35. Hendry, David F., 2006. "Robustifying forecasts from equilibrium-correction systems," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 135(1-2), pages 399-426.
    36. Christophe Bontemps & Grayham E. Mizon, 2008. "Encompassing: Concepts and Implementation," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 70(s1), pages 721-750, December.
    37. Andrews, Donald W K, 1993. "Tests for Parameter Instability and Structural Change with Unknown Change Point," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(4), pages 821-856, July.
    38. Joutz, Fred & Stekler, H. O., 2000. "An evaluation of the predictions of the Federal Reserve," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 17-38.
    39. Hyunyoung Choi & Hal Varian, 2012. "Predicting the Present with Google Trends," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 88(s1), pages 2-9, June.
    40. Martinez, Andrew B., 2015. "How good are US government forecasts of the federal debt?," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 312-324.
    41. S. S. Alexander & H. O. Stekler, 1959. "Forecasting Industrial Production--Leading Series versus Autoregression," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 67, pages 402-402.
    42. Jennifer Castle & David Hendry & Oleg Kitov, 2013. "Forecasting and Nowcasting Macroeconomic Variables: A Methodological Overview," Economics Series Working Papers 674, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    43. Castle, Jennifer L. & Fawcett, Nicholas W.P. & Hendry, David F., 2010. "Forecasting with equilibrium-correction models during structural breaks," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 158(1), pages 25-36, September.
    44. Jacob A. Mincer, 1969. "Economic Forecasts and Expectations: Analysis of Forecasting Behavior and Performance," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc69-1, March.
    45. Reinhart, Carmen & Goldstein, Morris & Kaminsky, Graciela, 2000. "Assessing financial vulnerability, an early warning system for emerging markets: Introduction," MPRA Paper 13629, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    46. Ericsson, Neil R., 2016. "Eliciting GDP forecasts from the FOMC’s minutes around the financial crisis," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 571-583.
    47. repec:kap:iaecre:v:18:y:2012:i:3:p:247-258 is not listed on IDEAS
    48. Davidson, James E H, et al, 1978. "Econometric Modelling of the Aggregate Time-Series Relationship between Consumers' Expenditure and Income in the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 88(352), pages 661-692, December.
    49. David Hendry & Carlos Santos, 2010. "An Automatic Test of Super Exogeneity," Economics Series Working Papers 476, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    50. Mizon, Grayham E & Richard, Jean-Francois, 1986. "The Encompassing Principle and Its Application to Testing Non-nested Hypotheses," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 657-678, May.
    51. Castle, Jennifer L. & Clements, Michael P. & Hendry, David F., 2013. "Forecasting by factors, by variables, by both or neither?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 177(2), pages 305-319.
    52. Ricardo Nunes, 2013. "Do central banks’ forecasts take into account public opinion and views?," International Finance Discussion Papers 1080, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    53. Ericsson, Neil R., 1992. "Parameter constancy, mean square forecast errors, and measuring forecast performance: An exposition, extensions, and illustration," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 465-495, August.
    54. Stekler, H. O., 2003. "Improving our ability to predict the unusual event," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 161-163.
    55. Clements, Michael P & Hendry, David F, 1996. "Intercept Corrections and Structural Change," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(5), pages 475-494, Sept.-Oct.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Ericsson, Neil R., 2017. "How biased are U.S. government forecasts of the federal debt?," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 543-559.
    2. Ericsson, Neil R., 2017. "Interpreting estimates of forecast bias," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 563-568.
    3. Branch, William A. & Gasteiger, Emanuel, 2019. "Endogenously (non-)Ricardian beliefs," ECON WPS - Working Papers in Economic Theory and Policy 03/2019, TU Wien, Institute of Statistics and Mathematical Methods in Economics, Economics Research Unit.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Ericsson, Neil R., 2016. "Eliciting GDP forecasts from the FOMC’s minutes around the financial crisis," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 571-583.
    2. Ericsson, Neil R., 2017. "Economic forecasting in theory and practice: An interview with David F. Hendry," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 523-542.
    3. Ericsson, Neil R., 2017. "Interpreting estimates of forecast bias," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 563-568.
    4. Hendry, David F., 2018. "Deciding between alternative approaches in macroeconomics," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 119-135.
    5. David F. Hendry & Grayham E. Mizon, 2016. "Improving the teaching of econometrics," Cogent Economics & Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(1), pages 1170096-117, December.
    6. Jennifer Castle & David Hendry, 2016. "Policy Analysis, Forediction, and Forecast Failure," Economics Series Working Papers 809, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    7. Jennifer L. Castle & Michael P. Clements & David F. Hendry, 2016. "An Overview of Forecasting Facing Breaks," Journal of Business Cycle Research, Springer;Centre for International Research on Economic Tendency Surveys (CIRET), vol. 12(1), pages 3-23, September.
    8. Andrew B. Martinez, 2020. "Forecast Accuracy Matters for Hurricane Damage," Econometrics, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(2), pages 1-24, May.
    9. Ashiya, Masahiro, 2007. "Forecast accuracy of the Japanese government: Its year-ahead GDP forecast is too optimistic," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 68-85, January.
    10. Felix Pretis & Lea Schneider & Jason E. Smerdon & David F. Hendry, 2016. "Detecting Volcanic Eruptions In Temperature Reconstructions By Designed Break-Indicator Saturation," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(3), pages 403-429, July.
    11. Messina, Jeffrey D. & Sinclair, Tara M. & Stekler, Herman, 2015. "What can we learn from revisions to the Greenbook forecasts?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 54-62.
    12. Dovern, Jonas & Jannsen, Nils, 2017. "Systematic errors in growth expectations over the business cycle," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 760-769.
    13. Daniel Culbertson & Tara Sinclair, 2014. "The Failure of Forecasts in the Great Recession," Challenge, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 57(6), pages 34-45.
    14. Jennifer L. Castle & David F. Hendry & Andrew B. Martinez, 2017. "Evaluating Forecasts, Narratives and Policy Using a Test of Invariance," Econometrics, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(3), pages 1-27, September.
    15. Clements, Michael P. & Reade, J. James, 2020. "Forecasting and forecast narratives: The Bank of England Inflation Reports," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 1488-1500.
    16. David F. Hendry, 2020. "A Short History of Macro-econometric Modelling," Economics Papers 2020-W01, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    17. Xie, Zixiong & Hsu, Shih-Hsun, 2016. "Time varying biases and the state of the economy," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 716-725.
    18. Marczak, Martyna & Proietti, Tommaso, 2016. "Outlier detection in structural time series models: The indicator saturation approach," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 180-202.
    19. Hendry, David F. & Mizon, Grayham E., 2014. "Unpredictability in economic analysis, econometric modeling and forecasting," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 182(1), pages 186-195.
    20. Castle, Jennifer L. & Clements, Michael P. & Hendry, David F., 2015. "Robust approaches to forecasting," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 99-112.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Autometrics; Bias; Debt; Federal government; Forecasts; Impulse indicator saturation; Projections; United States;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H68 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Forecasts of Budgets, Deficits, and Debt
    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:intfor:v:33:y:2017:i:2:p:543-559. 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: (Nithya Sathishkumar). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ijforecast .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.