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Bias in Federal Reserve Inflation Forecasts: Is the Federal Reserve Irrational or Just Cautious?

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  • Carlos Capistrán

Abstract

Inflation forecasts of the Federal Reserve seem to have systematically under-predicted inflation from the fourth quarter of 1968 until Volcker's appointment as Chairman, and to systematically over-predict it afterwards until the second quarter of 1998. Furthermore, under quadratic loss, commercial forecasts seem to have information not contained in those forecasts. To investigate the cause of this apparent irrationality, this paper recovers the loss function implied by Federal Reserve's inflation forecasts. The results suggest that the cost of having inflation above an implicit time-varying target was larger than the cost of having inflation below it for the period since Volcker, and that the opposite was true for the pre-Volcker era. Once these asymmetries are taken into account, the Federal Reserve's inflation forecasts are found to be rational.

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  • Carlos Capistrán, 2006. "Bias in Federal Reserve Inflation Forecasts: Is the Federal Reserve Irrational or Just Cautious?," Working Papers 2006-14, Banco de México.
  • Handle: RePEc:bdm:wpaper:2006-14
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Tillmann, 2011. "Reputation and Forecast Revisions: Evidence from the FOMC," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201128, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    2. Sinclair, Tara M. & Joutz, Fred & Stekler, H.O., 2010. "Can the Fed predict the state of the economy?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 28-32, July.
    3. Henning Fischer & Marta García-Bárzana & Peter Tillmann & Peter Winker, 2014. "Evaluating FOMC forecast ranges: an interval data approach," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 47(1), pages 365-388, August.
    4. Capistrán, Carlos & López-Moctezuma, Gabriel, 2014. "Forecast revisions of Mexican inflation and GDP growth," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 177-191.
    5. Carlos Capistrán & Allan Timmermann, 2009. "Disagreement and Biases in Inflation Expectations," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 41(2-3), pages 365-396, March.
    6. Hamid Baghestani, 2014. "On the loss structure of federal reserve forecasts of output growth," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer;Academy of Economics and Finance, vol. 38(3), pages 518-527, July.
    7. Martin Ellison & Thomas J. Sargent, 2012. "A Defense Of The Fomc," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 53(4), pages 1047-1065, November.
    8. Sinclair, Tara M. & Gamber, Edward N. & Stekler, Herman & Reid, Elizabeth, 2012. "Jointly evaluating the Federal Reserve’s forecasts of GDP growth and inflation," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 309-314.
    9. Tillmann, Peter, 2010. "The Fed's perceived Phillips curve: Evidence from individual FOMC forecasts," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 1008-1013, December.
    10. repec:fce:doctra:13-03 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Capistrán, Carlos, 2008. "Bias in Federal Reserve inflation forecasts: Is the Federal Reserve irrational or just cautious?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(8), pages 1415-1427, November.
    12. Graham Elliott & Allan Timmermann, 2016. "Economic Forecasting," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 10740.
    13. Christian Pierdzioch & Jan-Christoph Rülke & Peter Tillmann, 2013. "Using forecasts to uncover the loss function of FOMC members," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201302, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    14. Tsuchiya, Yoichi, 2016. "Assessing macroeconomic forecasts for Japan under an asymmetric loss function," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 233-242.
    15. Thapar, Aditi, 2008. "Using private forecasts to estimate the effects of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 806-824, May.
    16. Pierdzioch, Christian & Rülke, Jan-Christoph & Stadtmann, Georg, 2015. "Central banks’ inflation forecasts under asymmetric loss: Evidence from four Latin-American countries," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 66-70.
    17. Tillmann, Peter, 2011. "Strategic forecasting on the FOMC," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 547-553, September.
    18. Anatolyev, Stanislav, 2009. "Dynamic modeling under linear-exponential loss," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 82-89, January.
    19. Nakazono, Yoshiyuki, 2013. "Strategic behavior of Federal Open Market Committee board members: Evidence from members’ forecasts," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 62-70.
    20. Paul Hubert, 2015. "The Influence and Policy Signalling Role of FOMC Forecasts," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 77(5), pages 655-680, October.
    21. Krol, Robert, 2013. "Evaluating state revenue forecasting under a flexible loss function," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 282-289.
    22. Baghestani, Hamid, 2011. "Federal Reserve and private forecasts of growth in investment," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 290-305, July.
    23. Baghestani, Hamid & Khallaf, Ashraf, 2012. "Predictions of growth in U.S. corporate profits: Asymmetric vs. symmetric loss," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 222-229.
    24. Kim, Insu & Kim, Minsoo, 2009. "Irrational Bias in Inflation Forecasts," MPRA Paper 16447, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    Keywords

    Inflation forecasts; Forecast evaluation; Monetary policy;

    JEL classification:

    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy

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