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Are the Fed's inflation forecasts still superior to the private sector's?

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  • Gamber, Edward N.
  • Smith, Julie K.

Abstract

We examine the relative improvement in forecasting accuracy of the Federal Reserve (Greenbook forecasts) and private-sector forecasts (the Survey of Professional Forecasters and Blue Chip Economic Indicators)for inflation. Previous research by Romer and Romer [Romer, Christina, David, Romer, 2000. Federal reserve information and the behavior of interest rates. American Economic Review 90, 429-457], and Sims [Sims, Christopher, 2002. The role of models and probabilities in the monetary policy process. Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 2, 1-62] shows that the Fed is more accurate than the private sector at forecasting inflation. In a separate line of research, Atkeson and Ohanian [Andrew, Atkeson, Ohanian, Lee E., 2001. Are Phillips curves useful for forecasting inflation? Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Quarterly Review 25, 2-11] and Stock and Watson [Stock, James, Watson, Mark, 2007. Why has U.S. inflation become harder to forecast? Journal of Money, Credit and Banking 39] document changes in the forecastability of inflation since the Great Moderation. These works suggest that the reduced inflation variability associated with the Great Moderation was mostly due to a decline in the variability of the predictable component inflation. We hypothesize that the decline in the variability of the predictable component of inflation has evened the playing field between the Fed and the private sector and therefore led to a narrowing, if not disappearance, of the Fed's relative forecasting advantage. We find that the Fed's forecast errors remain significantly smaller than the private sector's but the gap has narrowed considerable since the mid-1980s, especially after 1994.

Suggested Citation

  • Gamber, Edward N. & Smith, Julie K., 2009. "Are the Fed's inflation forecasts still superior to the private sector's?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 240-251, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jmacro:v:31:y:2009:i:2:p:240-251
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Paul Hubert, 2015. "Do Central Bank Forecasts Influence Private Agents? Forecasting Performance versus Signals," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 47(4), pages 771-789, June.
    2. Jung, Alexander & El-Shagi, Makram & Giesen, Sebastian, 2014. "Does the federal reserve staff still beat private forecasters?," Working Paper Series 1635, European Central Bank.
    3. Henning Fischer & Marta García-Bárzana & Peter Tillmann & Peter Winker, 2014. "Evaluating FOMC forecast ranges: an interval data approach," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 47(1), pages 365-388, August.
    4. Bedri Kamil Onur Taş, 2016. "Does the Federal Reserve have Private Information about its Future Actions?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 83(331), pages 498-517, July.
    5. Barbara Rossi & Tatevik Sekhposyan, 2016. "Forecast Rationality Tests in the Presence of Instabilities, with Applications to Federal Reserve and Survey Forecasts," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(3), pages 507-532, April.
    6. João Valle e Azevedo, 2011. "Rational vs. professional forecasts," Economic Bulletin and Financial Stability Report Articles and Banco de Portugal Economic Studies, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    7. Ellis, Michael A. & Liu, Dandan, 2013. "Do FOMC forecasts add value to staff forecasts?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 332-340.
    8. Jakob de Haan & David-Jan Jansen, 2009. "The communication policy of the European Central Bank: An overview of the first decade," DNB Working Papers 212, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    9. El-Shagi, Makram & Giesen, Sebastian & Jung, Alexander, 2016. "Revisiting the relative forecast performances of Fed staff and private forecasters: A dynamic approach," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 313-323.
    10. Herman O. Stekler & Hilary Symington, 2014. "How Did The Fomc View The Great Recession As It Was Happening?: Evaluating The Minutes From Fomc Meetings, 2006-2010," Working Papers 2014-005, The George Washington University, Department of Economics, Research Program on Forecasting.
    11. Kishor N. Kundan, 2010. "The Superiority of Greenbook Forecasts and the Role of Recessions," NBP Working Papers 74, Narodowy Bank Polski, Economic Research Department.
    12. Pao-Lin Tien & Tara M. Sinclair & Edward N. Gamber, 2015. "Do Fed Forecast Errors Matter?," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2015-004, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
    13. repec:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/3pot7260lh88lrfhrhvs85lh2f is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Paul Hubert, 2015. "Revisiting the Greenbook’s relative forecasting performance," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 0(1), pages 151-179.
    15. B. Onur Tas, 2012. "Federal Reserve Private Information in Forecasting Interest Rates," Working Papers 1206, TOBB University of Economics and Technology, Department of Economics.
    16. repec:eee:ecanpo:v:54:y:2017:i:c:p:112-122 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Gamber, Edward N. & Smith, Julie K. & McNamara, Dylan C., 2014. "Where is the Fed in the distribution of forecasters?," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 296-312.
    18. 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.
    19. El-Shagi, Makram & Giesen, Sebastian & Jung, Alexander, 2012. "Does Central Bank Staff Beat Private Forecasters?," IWH Discussion Papers 5/2012, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    20. repec:mes:challe:v:57:y:2014:i:6:p:34-45 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Stekler, Herman & Symington, Hilary, 2016. "Evaluating qualitative forecasts: The FOMC minutes, 2006–2010," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 559-570.
    22. Paul Hubert, 2010. "Monetary Policy, Imperfect Information and the Expectations Channel," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/f4rshpf3v1u, Sciences Po.
    23. Liu, Dandan & Smith, Julie K., 2014. "Inflation forecasts and core inflation measures: Where is the information on future inflation?," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 133-137.
    24. Gamber, Edward N. & Liebner, Jeffrey P. & Smith, Julie K., 2015. "The distribution of inflation forecast errors," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 47-64.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Forecasting inflation Survey of Professional Forecasters Blue Chip forecasts Greenbook forecasts Naive forecasts;

    JEL classification:

    • E37 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications

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