IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this book chapter

Twenty-two Years of the NBER-ASA Quarterly Economic Outlook Surveys: Aspects and Comparisons of Forecasting Performance

In: Business Cycles, Indicators and Forecasting

Listed author(s):
  • Victor Zarnowitz
  • Phillip Braun

The National Bureau of Economic Research, in co-operation with the American Statistical Association, conducted a regular quarterly survey of professional macroeconomic forecasters for 22 years beginning in 1968. The survey produced a mass of information about characteristics and results of the forecasting process. Many studies have already used some of this material. but this is the first comprehensive examination of all of It, This report addresses several subjects and produces findings on each, as follows: (I) The distributions of error statistics across the forecasters: the dispersion among the individual predictions is often large and it typically increases with forecast horizon, as do the mean absolute (or squared) errors. (2) The role of the time-series properties of the target data: the more volatile the time series, the larger as a rule are the errors of the forecasts. (3) The role of revisions in "actual" data: forecast errors tend to be larger the greater the extent of the revisions. (4) Differences by subperiod: there is little evidence of an overall improvement or deterioration in forecasts between the 1970s and the 19805. (5) Combining the individual forecasts into group mean or "consensus" forecasts: this generally results in large gains in accuracy. (6) Comparisons with a well-known macroeconometric model: the group forecasts are more accurate for most but not all variables and spans. (7) Comparisons with state-of-the-art time series models: the group forecasts and at least half of the individual forecasts tend to outperform Bayesian vector autoregressive models in most (but not all) cases. The univariate ARIMA forecasts arc generally the weakest.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

in new window

This chapter was published in:
  • James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1993. "Business Cycles, Indicators and Forecasting," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number stoc93-1, November.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 7189.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:7189
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    in new window

    1. Dominguez, Kathryn M & Fair, Ray C & Shapiro, Matthew D, 1988. "Forecasting the Depression: Harvard versus Yale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 595-612, September.
    2. Solow, Robert M, 1985. "Economic History and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 328-331, May.
    3. Victor Zarnowitz, 1972. "The Business Cycle Today: An Introduction," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Research: Retrospect and Prospect, Volume 1, The Business Cycle Today, pages 1-38 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Emile Grunberg & Franco Modigliani, 1954. "The Predictability of Social Events," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62, pages 465-465.
    5. Vincent Su & Josephine Su, 1975. "An Evaluation of ASA/NBER Business Outlook Survey Forecasts," NBER Chapters,in: Explorations in Economic Research, Volume 2, number 4, pages 588-618 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Victor Zarnowitz & Louis A. Lambros, 1983. "Consensus and Uncertainty in Economic Prediction," NBER Working Papers 1171, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Litterman, Robert B, 1986. "Forecasting with Bayesian Vector Autoregressions-Five Years of Experience," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 4(1), pages 25-38, January.
    8. Clemen, Robert T., 1989. "Combining forecasts: A review and annotated bibliography," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 559-583.
    9. Rosanne Cole, 1969. "Errors in Provisional Estimates of Gross National Product," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number cole69-1, November.
    10. Zarnowitz, Victor, 1985. "Rational Expectations and Macroeconomic Forecasts," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(4), pages 293-311, October.
    11. Zarnowitz, Victor & Lambros, Louis A, 1987. "Consensus and Uncertainty in Economic Prediction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 591-621, June.
    12. Michael K. Evans & Yoel Haitovsky & George I. Treyz & Vincent Su, 1972. "An Analysis of the Forecasting Properties of U.S. Econometric Models," NBER Chapters,in: Econometric Models of Cyclical Behavior, Volumes 1 and 2, pages 949-1158 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:7189. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.