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FOMC consensus forecasts

  • William T. Gavin
  • Geetanjali Pande

In November 2007, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) announced a change in the way it communicates its view of the economic outlook: It increased the frequency of its forecasts from two to four times per year, and it increased the length of the forecasting horizon from two to three years. The FOMC does not release the individual members' forecasts or standard measures of consensus such as the mean or median. Rather, it continues to release the forecast information as a range of forecasts, both the full range between the high and the low and a central tendency that omits the extreme values. This paper uses individual forecaster data from the Survey of Professional Forecasters (SPF) to mimic the FOMC's method for creating their central tendency. The authors show that the midpoint of the central tendency of the SPF is a reliable measure of the consensus, suggesting that the FOMC reporting method is also a reliable measure of consensus. For the dates when both are available, the authors also compare the relative forecast accuracy of the FOMC and SPF consensus forecasts for output growth and inflation. Overall, the differences in forecast accuracy are too small to be statistically significant.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its journal Review.

Volume (Year): (2008)
Issue (Month): May ()
Pages: 149-164

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2008:i:may:p:149-164:n:v.90no.3,pt.1
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  1. Kevin Dowd, 2004. "FOMC Forecasts of Macroeconomic Risks," Occasional Papers 12, Industrial Economics Division, revised 10 Jan 2004.
  2. repec:fip:fedgsq:y:2007:i:nov14 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. William T. Gavin & Rachel J. Mandal, 2001. "Forecasting inflation and growth: do private forecasts match those of policymakers?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 11-20.
  4. Jansen, Dennis W. & Kishan, Ruby Pandey, 1996. "An evaluation of federal reserve forecasting," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 89-109.
  5. Karamouzis, Nicholas & Lombra, Raymond, 1989. "Federal reserve policymaking: an overview and analysis of the policy process," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 7-62, January.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.).
  8. Gavin, William T. & Mandal, Rachel J., 2003. "Evaluating FOMC forecasts," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 655-667.
  9. Ben S. Bernanke, 2007. "Federal Reserve communications," Speech 344, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. 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.
  11. Baghestani, Hamid, 2008. "Federal Reserve versus private information: Who is the best unemployment rate predictor," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 101-110.
  12. Lombra, Raymond & Moran, Michael, 1980. "Policy advice and policymaking at the federal reserve," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 9-68, January.
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