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What Central Bankers Need to Know about Forecasting Oil Prices

  • Christiane Baumeister
  • Lutz Kilian

Forecasts of the quarterly real price of oil are routinely used by international organizations and central banks worldwide in assessing the global and domestic economic outlook, yet little is known about how best to generate such forecasts. Our analysis breaks new ground in several dimensions. First, we address a number of econometric and data issues specific to real-time forecasts of quarterly oil prices. Second, we develop real-time forecasting models not only for U.S. benchmarks such as West Texas Intermediate crude oil, but we also develop forecasting models for the price of Brent crude oil, which has become increasingly accepted as the best measure of the global price of oil in recent years. Third, we design for the first time methods for forecasting the real price of oil in foreign consumption units rather than U.S. consumption units, taking the point of view of forecasters outside the United States. In addition, we investigate the costs and benefits of allowing for time variation in vector autoregressive (VAR) model parameters and of constructing forecast combinations. We conclude that quarterly forecasts of the real price of oil from suitably designed VAR models estimated on monthly data generate the most accurate forecasts among a wide range of methods including forecasts based on oil futures prices, no-change forecasts and forecasts based on regression models estimated on quarterly data.

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Paper provided by Bank of Canada in its series Working Papers with number 13-15.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bca:bocawp:13-15
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  1. Kilian, Lutz, 2006. "Not All Oil Price Shocks Are Alike: Disentangling Demand and Supply Shocks in the Crude Oil Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 5994, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Antonello D'Agostino & Luca Gambetti & Domenico Giannone, 2009. "Macroeconomic Forecasting and Structural Change," Working Papers ECARES 2009_020, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  3. Christiane Baumeister & Lutz Kilian, 2011. "Real-Time Forecasts of the Real Price of Oil," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(2), pages 326-336, September.
  4. Domenico Giannone & Jérôme Henry & Magdalena Lalik & Michèle Modugno, 2010. "An Area Wide Real Time Data Base for the Euro Area," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2010-026, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  5. Alquist, Ron & Kilian, Lutz, 2007. "What Do We Learn from the Price of Crude Oil Futures?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6548, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Francis X. Diebold & Robert S. Mariano, 1994. "Comparing Predictive Accuracy," NBER Technical Working Papers 0169, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Dean Croushore, 2011. "Frontiers of Real-Time Data Analysis," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(1), pages 72-100, March.
  8. Cogley, Timothy & Morozov, Sergei & Sargent, Thomas J., 2005. "Bayesian fan charts for U.K. inflation: Forecasting and sources of uncertainty in an evolving monetary system," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(11), pages 1893-1925, November.
  9. Kilian, Lutz & Murphy, Daniel P, 2010. "The Role of Inventories and Speculative Trading in the Global Market for Crude Oil," CEPR Discussion Papers 7753, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Todd E. Clark & Michael W. McCracken, 2007. "Tests of equal predictive ability with real-time data," Research Working Paper RWP 07-06, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  11. Christiane Baumeister & Gert Peersman, 2011. "The Role of Time-Varying Price Elasticities in Accounting for Volatility Changes in the Crude Oil Market," Working Papers 11-28, Bank of Canada.
  12. Domenico Giannone & Michele Lenza & Giorgio E. Primiceri, 2012. "Prior Selection for Vector Autoregressions," NBER Working Papers 18467, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Inoue, Atsushi & Kilian, Lutz, 2003. "On the Selection of Forecasting Models," CEPR Discussion Papers 3809, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Alquist, Ron & Kilian, Lutz & Vigfusson, Robert J., 2011. "Forecasting the Price of Oil," CEPR Discussion Papers 8388, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Frank Schorfheide & Dongho Song, 2012. "Real-time forecasting with a mixed-frequency VAR," Working Papers 701, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  16. Morten O. Ravn & Harald Uhlig, 2002. "On adjusting the Hodrick-Prescott filter for the frequency of observations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 371-375.
  17. James H. Stock & Mark W.Watson, 2003. "Forecasting Output and Inflation: The Role of Asset Prices," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(3), pages 788-829, September.
  18. Mark W. Watson & James H. Stock, 2004. "Combination forecasts of output growth in a seven-country data set," Journal of Forecasting, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(6), pages 405-430.
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