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

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

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.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 31 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 240-251

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jmacro:v:31:y:2009:i:2:p:240-251
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622617

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  1. David H. Romer & Christina D. Romer, 2000. "Federal Reserve Information and the Behavior of Interest Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 429-457, June.
  2. Jon Faust & Jonathan H. Wright, 2007. "Comparing Greenbook and Reduced Form Forecasts using a Large Realtime Dataset," NBER Working Papers 13397, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Kim, Chang-Jin & Nelson, Charles R & Piger, Jeremy, 2004. "The Less-Volatile U.S. Economy: A Bayesian Investigation of Timing, Breadth, and Potential Explanations," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 22(1), pages 80-93, January.
  4. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2006. "Why Has U.S. Inflation Become Harder to Forecast?," NBER Working Papers 12324, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2002. "Has the Business Cycle Changed and Why?," NBER Working Papers 9127, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Cukierman, Alex, 2007. "The Limits of Transparency," CEPR Discussion Papers 6475, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. D’Agostino, Antonello & Giannone, Domenico & Surico, Paolo, 2006. "(Un)Predictability and macroeconomic stability," Working Paper Series 0605, European Central Bank.
  8. Ray C. Fair & Robert J. Shiller, 1988. "The Informational Content of Ex Ante Forecasts," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 857, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  9. Andrew Atkeson & Lee E. Ohanian., 2001. "Are Phillips curves useful for forecasting inflation?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 2-11.
  10. James A. Kahn & Margaret M. McConnell & Gabriel Perez-Quiros, 2002. "On the causes of the increased stability of the U.S. economy," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue May, pages 183-202.
  11. Gabriel Perez-Quiros & Margaret M. McConnell, 2000. "Output Fluctuations in the United States: What Has Changed since the Early 1980's?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1464-1476, December.
  12. Hans Gersbach, 2003. "On the negative social value of central banks' knowledge transparency," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 91-102, 08.
  13. William T. Gavin & Rachel J. Mandal, 2000. "Forecasting inflation and growth: do private forecasts match those of policymakers?," Working Papers 2000-026, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  14. Harvey, David & Leybourne, Stephen & Newbold, Paul, 1997. "Testing the equality of prediction mean squared errors," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 281-291, June.
  15. Olivier Blanchard & John Simon, 2001. "The Long and Large Decline in U.S. Output Volatility," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(1), pages 135-174.
  16. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2003. "Has the business cycle changed?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 9-56.
  17. Christopher A. Sims, 2002. "The Role of Models and Probabilities in the Monetary Policy Process," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(2), pages 1-62.
  18. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2007. "Erratum to "Why Has U.S. Inflation Become Harder to Forecast?"," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(7), pages 1849-1849, October.
  19. Tara Sinclair & H. O. Stekler & L. Kitzinger, 2010. "Directional forecasts of GDP and inflation: a joint evaluation with an application to Federal Reserve predictions," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(18), pages 2289-2297.
  20. David Reifschneider & Peter Tulip, 2007. "Gauging the uncertainty of the economic outlook from historical forecasting errors," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-60, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  21. 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 230-35, May.
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