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Revisionist history: how data revisions distort economic policy research

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  • David E. Runkle

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • David E. Runkle, 1998. "Revisionist history: how data revisions distort economic policy research," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 3-12.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmqr:y:1998:i:fall:p:3-12:n:v.22no.4
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-1054, July.
    2. 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 829-853, October.
    3. Christiano, Lawrence J & Eichenbaum, Martin, 1995. "Liquidity Effects, Monetary Policy, and the Business Cycle," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(4), pages 1113-1136, November.
    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. 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.
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    Keywords

    Economic policy;

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