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Forecasting the Real Price of Oil in a Changing World: A Forecast Combination Approach

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  • Christiane Baumeister
  • Lutz Kilian

Abstract

The U.S. Energy Information Administration regularly publishes short-term forecasts of the price of crude oil. Traditionally, such out-of-sample forecasts have been largely judgmental, making them difficult to replicate and justify, and not particularly successful when compared with naïve no-change forecasts, as documented in Alquist, Kilian and Vigfusson (2013). Recently, a number of alternative econometric oil price forecasting models have been introduced in the literature and shown to be more accurate than the nochange forecast of the real price of oil. We investigate the merits of constructing realtime forecast combinations of six such models with weights that reflect the recent forecasting success of each model. Forecast combinations are promising for four reasons. First, even the most accurate forecasting models do not work equally well at all times. Second, some forecasting models work better at short horizons and others at longer horizons. Third, even the forecasting model with the lowest mean-squared prediction error (MSPE) may potentially be improved by incorporating information from other models with higher MSPEs. Fourth, one can think of forecast combinations as providing insurance against possible model misspecification and smooth structural change. We demonstrate that over the past 20 years suitably constructed real-time forecast combinations would have been more accurate than the no-change forecast at every horizon up to two years. Relative to the no-change forecast, forecast combinations reduce the MSPE by up to 18 per cent. They also have statistically significant directional accuracy as high as 77 per cent. We conclude that suitably constructed forecast combinations should replace traditional judgmental forecasts of the price of oil.

Suggested Citation

  • Christiane Baumeister & Lutz Kilian, 2013. "Forecasting the Real Price of Oil in a Changing World: A Forecast Combination Approach," Staff Working Papers 13-28, Bank of Canada.
  • Handle: RePEc:bca:bocawp:13-28
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Philip K Verleger, 2011. "The Margin, Currency, and the Price of Oil," Business Economics, Palgrave Macmillan;National Association for Business Economics, vol. 46(2), pages 71-82, April.
    2. Trevor A. Reeve & Robert J. Vigfusson, 2011. "Evaluating the forecasting performance of commodity futures prices," International Finance Discussion Papers 1025, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    3. Baumeister, Christiane & Kilian, Lutz & Zhou, Xiaoqing, 2013. "Are Product Spreads Useful for Forecasting? An Empirical Evaluation of the Verleger Hypothesis," CEPR Discussion Papers 9572, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Ron Alquist & Lutz Kilian, 2010. "What do we learn from the price of crude oil futures?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(4), pages 539-573.
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    6. Pesaran, M. Hashem & Timmermann, Allan, 2009. "Testing Dependence Among Serially Correlated Multicategory Variables," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 104(485), pages 325-337.
    7. Christiane Baumeister & Lutz Kilian, 2014. "What Central Bankers Need To Know About Forecasting Oil Prices," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 55(3), pages 869-889, August.
    8. Alquist, Ron & Kilian, Lutz & Vigfusson, Robert J., 2013. "Forecasting the Price of Oil," Handbook of Economic Forecasting, in: G. Elliott & C. Granger & A. Timmermann (ed.), Handbook of Economic Forecasting, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 427-507, Elsevier.
    9. Lutz Kilian & Daniel P. Murphy, 2014. "The Role Of Inventories And Speculative Trading In The Global Market For Crude Oil," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(3), pages 454-478, April.
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    Keywords

    Econometric and statistical methods; International topics;

    JEL classification:

    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy
    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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