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Machine learning at central banks


  • Chakraborty, Chiranjit

    () (Bank of England)

  • Joseph, Andreas

    () (Bank of England)


We introduce machine learning in the context of central banking and policy analyses. Our aim is to give an overview broad enough to allow the reader to place machine learning within the wider range of statistical modelling and computational analyses, and provide an idea of its scope and limitations. We review the underlying technical sources and the nascent literature applying machine learning to economic and policy problems. We present popular modelling approaches, such as artificial neural networks, tree-based models, support vector machines, recommender systems and different clustering techniques. Important concepts like the bias-variance trade-off, optimal model complexity, regularisation and cross-validation are discussed to enrich the econometrics toolbox in their own right. We present three case studies relevant to central bank policy, financial regulation and economic modelling more widely. First, we model the detection of alerts on the balance sheets of financial institutions in the context of banking supervision. Second, we perform a projection exercise for UK CPI inflation on a medium-term horizon of two years. Here, we introduce a simple training-testing framework for time series analyses. Third, we investigate the funding patterns of technology start-ups with the aim to detect potentially disruptive innovators in financial technology. Machine learning models generally outperform traditional modelling approaches in prediction tasks, while open research questions remain with regard to their causal inference properties.

Suggested Citation

  • Chakraborty, Chiranjit & Joseph, Andreas, 2017. "Machine learning at central banks," Bank of England working papers 674, Bank of England.
  • Handle: RePEc:boe:boeewp:0674

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bholat, David & Brookes, James & Cai, Chris & Grundy, Katy & Lund, Jakob, 2017. "Sending firm messages: text mining letters from PRA supervisors to banks and building societies they regulate," Bank of England working papers 688, Bank of England.

    More about this item


    Machine learning; artificial intelligence; big data; econometrics; forecasting; inflation; financial markets; banking supervision; financial technology;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • A33 - General Economics and Teaching - - Multisubject Collective Works - - - Handbooks
    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • C38 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Classification Methdos; Cluster Analysis; Principal Components; Factor Analysis
    • C44 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Operations Research; Statistical Decision Theory
    • C45 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Neural Networks and Related Topics
    • C51 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Construction and Estimation
    • C52 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Evaluation, Validation, and Selection
    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • C54 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Quantitative Policy Modeling
    • C55 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Large Data Sets: Modeling and Analysis
    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • C63 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Computational Techniques
    • C87 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Econometric Software
    • E37 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • G17 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Financial Forecasting and Simulation
    • Y20 - Miscellaneous Categories - - Introductions and Prefaces - - - Introductions and Prefaces

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