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Real-Time Nowcasting of GDP: Factor Model versus Professional Forecasters

  • Liebermann, Joelle

    (Central Bank of Ireland)

This paper performs a fully real-time nowcasting (forecasting) exercise of US real gross domestic product (GDP) growth using Giannone, Reichlin and Small (2008) factor model framework which enables one to handle unbalanced datasets as available in real-time. To this end, we have constructed a novel real-time database of vintages from October 2000 to June 2010 for a panel of US variables, and can hence reproduce, for any given day in that range, the exact information that was available to a real-time forecaster. We track the daily evolution throughout the current and next quarter of the model nowcasting performance. Similarly to Giannone et al. pseudo realtime results, we find that the precision of the nowcasts increases with information releases. Moreover, the Survey of Professional Forecasters (SPF) does not carry additional information with respect to the model best specification, suggesting that the often cited superiority of the SPF, attributable to judgment, is weak over our sample. Then, as one moves forward along the real-time data flow, the continuous updating of the model provides a more precise estimate of current quarter GDP growth and the SPF becomes stale compared to all the model specifications. These results are robust to the recent recession period.

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File URL: http://www.centralbank.ie/publications/documents/03RT11.pdf
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Paper provided by Central Bank of Ireland in its series Research Technical Papers with number 3/RT/11.

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Date of creation: Mar 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cbi:wpaper:3/rt/11
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  1. Elena Angelini & Gonzalo Camba-Mendez & Domenico Giannone & Lucrezia Reichlin & Gerhard Rünstler, 2008. "Short-Term Forecasts of Euro Area GDP Growth," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2008-035, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  2. Lucrezia Reichlin & Domenico Giannone & Luca Sala, . "Monetary policy in real time," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/10177, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    • Domenico Giannone & Lucrezia Reichlin & Luca Sala, 2005. "Monetary Policy in Real Time," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2004, Volume 19, pages 161-224 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Domenico Giannone & Lucrezia Reichlin & David Small, 2005. "Nowcasting GDP and inflation: the real-time informational content of macroeconomic data releases," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-42, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. D’Agostino, Antonello & Giannone, Domenico, 2006. "Comparing alternative predictors based on large-panel factor models," Working Paper Series 0680, European Central Bank.
  5. Jushan Bai & Serena Ng, 2000. "Determining the Number of Factors in Approximate Factor Models," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 440, Boston College Department of Economics.
  6. Banbura, Marta & Rünstler, Gerhard, 2007. "A look into the factor model black box: publication lags and the role of hard and soft data in forecasting GDP," Working Paper Series 0751, European Central Bank.
  7. Doz, Catherine & Giannone, Domenico & Reichlin, Lucrezia, 2011. "A two-step estimator for large approximate dynamic factor models based on Kalman filtering," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 164(1), pages 188-205, September.
  8. Diebold, Francis X & Mariano, Roberto S, 1995. "Comparing Predictive Accuracy," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(3), pages 253-63, July.
  9. Marta Bańbura & Michele Modugno, 2014. "Maximum Likelihood Estimation Of Factor Models On Datasets With Arbitrary Pattern Of Missing Data," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(1), pages 133-160, 01.
  10. G. Rünstler & K. Barhoumi & S. Benk & R. Cristadoro & A. Den Reijer & A. Jakaitiene & P. Jelonek & A. Rua & K. Ruth & C. Van Nieuwenhuyze, 2008. "Short-Term Forecasting of GDP Using Large Monthly Datasets: A Pseudo Real-Time Forecast Evaluation Exercise," Bank of Lithuania Working Paper Series 1, Bank of Lithuania.
  11. Durbin, James & Koopman, Siem Jan, 2001. "Time Series Analysis by State Space Methods," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198523543, March.
  12. Ben S. Bernanke & Jean Boivin, 2001. "Monetary Policy in a Data-Rich Environment," NBER Working Papers 8379, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. D’Agostino, Antonello & Giannone, Domenico & Surico, Paolo, 2006. "(Un)Predictability and macroeconomic stability," Working Paper Series 0605, European Central Bank.
  14. Jon Faust & Jonathan H. Wright, 2007. "Comparing Greenbook and Reduced Form Forecasts using a Large Realtime Dataset," NBER Working Papers 13397, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Mario Forni & Marc Hallin & Marco Lippi & Lucrezia Reichlin, 2003. "The Generalized Dynamic Factor Model. One-Sided Estimation and Forecasting," LEM Papers Series 2003/13, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  16. Boivin, Jean & Ng, Serena, 2005. "Understanding and Comparing Factor-Based Forecasts," MPRA Paper 836, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  17. D'Agostino, Antonello & McQuinn, Kieran & O'Brien, Derry, 2008. "Now-casting Irish GDP," Research Technical Papers 9/RT/08, Central Bank of Ireland.
  18. Fair, Ray C & Shiller, Robert J, 1990. "Comparing Information in Forecasts from Econometric Models," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 375-89, June.
  19. Catherine Dehon & Marjorie Gassner & Vincenzo Verardi, 2009. "Beware of 'Good' Outliers and Overoptimistic Conclusions," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 71(3), pages 437-452, 06.
  20. Faust, Jon & Wright, Jonathan H., 2009. "Comparing Greenbook and Reduced Form Forecasts Using a Large Realtime Dataset," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 27(4), pages 468-479.
  21. Bai, Jushan & Ng, Serena, 2007. "Determining the Number of Primitive Shocks in Factor Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 25, pages 52-60, January.
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