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Revisionist history: how data revisions distort economic policy research

  • David E. Runkle
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    This article describes how and why official U.S. estimates of the growth in real economic output and inflation are revised over time, demonstrates how big those revisions tend to be, and evaluates whether the revisions matter for researchers trying to understand the economy’s performance and the contemporaneous reactions of policymakers. The conclusion may seem obvious, but it is a point ignored by most researchers: To have a good chance of understanding how policymakers make their decisions, researchers must use not the final data available, but the data available initially, when the policy decisions are actually made.

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    Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its journal Quarterly Review.

    Volume (Year): (1998)
    Issue (Month): Fall ()
    Pages: 3-12

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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmqr:y:1998:i:fall:p:3-12:n:v.22no.4
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    1. Hansen, Lars Peter & Hodrick, Robert J, 1980. "Forward Exchange Rates as Optimal Predictors of Future Spot Rates: An Econometric Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(5), pages 829-53, October.
    2. N. Gregory Mankiw & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1986. "News or Noise? An Analysis of GNP Revisions," NBER Working Papers 1939, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum, 1992. "Liquidity effects, monetary policy, and the business cycle," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 70, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    4. Eric M. Leeper & Christopher A. Sims & Tao Zha, 1996. "What Does Monetary Policy Do?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(2), pages 1-78.
    5. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-54, July.
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