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Do Oil Prices Help Forecast U.S. Real GDP? The Role of Nonlinearities and Asymmetries

  • Lutz Kilian
  • Robert J. Vigfusson

There is a long tradition of using oil prices to forecast U.S. real GDP. It has been suggested that the predictive relationship between the price of oil and one-quarter-ahead U.S. real GDP is nonlinear in that (a) oil price increases matter only to the extent that they exceed the maximum oil price in recent years, and that (b) oil price decreases do not matter at all. We examine, first, whether the evidence of in-sample predictability in support of this view extends to out-of-sample forecasts. Second, we discuss how to extend this forecasting approach to higher horizons. Third, we compare the resulting class of nonlinear models to alternative economically plausible nonlinear specifications and examine which aspect of the model is most useful for forecasting. We show that the asymmetry embodied in commonly used nonlinear transformations of the price of oil is not helpful for out-of-sample forecasting; more robust and often more accurate real GDP forecasts are obtained from symmetric nonlinear models based on the 3-year net oil price change. Finally, we quantify the extent to which the 2008 recession could have been forecast using the latter class of time-varying threshold models.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1080/07350015.2012.740436
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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Business & Economic Statistics.

Volume (Year): 31 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 78-93

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jnlbes:v:31:y:2013:i:1:p:78-93
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  1. Lucas W. Davis & Lutz Kilian, 2009. "Estimating the Effect of a Gasoline Tax on Carbon Emissions," NBER Working Papers 14685, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Massimiliano Marcellino & James Stock & Mark Watson, 2005. "A Comparison of Direct and Iterated Multistep AR Methods for Forecasting Macroeconomic Time Series," Working Papers 285, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  3. Kilian, Lutz & Vigfusson, Robert J., 2011. "Nonlinearities in the Oil Price-Output Relationship," CEPR Discussion Papers 8174, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Atsushi Inoue & Lutz Kilian, 2005. "In-Sample or Out-of-Sample Tests of Predictability: Which One Should We Use?," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(4), pages 371-402.
  5. Francesco Ravazzolo & Philip Rothman, 2013. "Oil and U.S. GDP: A Real‐Time Out‐of‐Sample Examination," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 45(2-3), pages 449-463, 03.
  6. Christiane Baumeister & Lutz Kilian, 2011. "Real-Time Forecasts of the Real Price of Oil," Working Papers 11-16, Bank of Canada.
  7. Todd E. Clark & Michael W. McCracken, 2009. "In-sample tests of predictive ability: a new approach," Working Papers 2009-051, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  8. Hamilton, James D., 2003. "What is an oil shock?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 113(2), pages 363-398, April.
  9. Lutz Kilian & Robert J. Vigfusson, 2011. "Are the responses of the U.S. economy asymmetric in energy price increases and decreases?," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 2(3), pages 419-453, November.
  10. Herrera, Ana María & Lagalo, Latika Gupta & Wada, Tatsuma, 2011. "Oil Price Shocks And Industrial Production: Is The Relationship Linear?," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(S3), pages 472-497, November.
  11. Edelstein, Paul & Kilian, Lutz, 2009. "How sensitive are consumer expenditures to retail energy prices?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 766-779, September.
  12. Mork, Knut Anton, 1989. "Oil and Macroeconomy When Prices Go Up and Down: An Extension of Hamilton's Results," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 740-44, June.
  13. Hamilton, James D, 1988. "A Neoclassical Model of Unemployment and the Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(3), pages 593-617, June.
  14. Lutz Kilian, 2009. "Not All Oil Price Shocks Are Alike: Disentangling Demand and Supply Shocks in the Crude Oil Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 1053-69, June.
  15. Hamilton, James D., 2011. "Nonlinearities And The Macroeconomic Effects Of Oil Prices," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(S3), pages 364-378, November.
  16. Hamilton, James D., 1996. "This is what happened to the oil price-macroeconomy relationship," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 215-220, October.
  17. Lance Bachmeier & Qi Li & Dandan Liu, 2008. "Should Oil Prices Receive So Much Attention? An Evaluation Of The Predictive Power Of Oil Prices For The U.S. Economy," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 46(4), pages 528-539, October.
  18. Todd E. Clark & Michael W. McCracken, 2009. "Nested forecast model comparisons: a new approach to testing equal accuracy," Working Papers 2009-050, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  19. Koop, Gary & Pesaran, M. Hashem & Potter, Simon M., 1996. "Impulse response analysis in nonlinear multivariate models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 119-147, September.
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