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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. Catherine Doz & Domenico Giannone & Lucrezia Reichlin, 2006. "A Two-step estimator for large approximate dynamic factor models based on Kalman filtering," THEMA Working Papers 2006-23, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  2. Barhoumi, K. & Rünstler, G. & Cristadoro, R. & Den Reijer, A. & Jakaitiene, A. & Jelonek, P. & Rua, A. & Ruth, K. & Benk, S. & Van Nieuwenhuyze, C., 2008. "Short-term forecasting of GDP using large monthly datasets: a pseudo real-time forecast evaluation exercise," Working papers 215, Banque de France.
  3. D'Agostino, Antonello & Giannone, Domenico, 2006. "Comparing Alternative Predictors Based on Large-Panel Factor Models," Research Technical Papers 14/RT/06, Central Bank of Ireland.
  4. 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.
  5. Ben S. Bernanke & Jean Boivin, 2001. "Monetary Policy in a Data-Rich Environment," NBER Working Papers 8379, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Giannone, Domenico & Reichlin, Lucrezia & Small, David, 2005. "Nowcasting GDP and Inflation: The Real Time Informational Content of Macroeconomic Data Releases," CEPR Discussion Papers 5178, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Diebold, Francis X & Mariano, Roberto S, 2002. "Comparing Predictive Accuracy," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(1), pages 134-44, January.
  8. Giannone, Domenico & Reichlin, Lucrezia & Sala, Luca, 2005. "Monetary Policy in Real Time," CEPR Discussion Papers 4981, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    • 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.
  9. Banbura, Marta & Rünstler, Gerhard, 2011. "A look into the factor model black box: Publication lags and the role of hard and soft data in forecasting GDP," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 333-346, April.
  10. Jean Boivin & Serena Ng, 2005. "Understanding and Comparing Factor-Based Forecasts," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 1(3), December.
  11. D'Agostino, Antonello & Giannone, Domenico & Surico, Paolo, 2007. "(Un)Predictability and Macroeconomic Stability," CEPR Discussion Papers 6594, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. 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.
  13. D'Agostino, Antonello & McQuinn, Kieran & O'Brien, Derry, 2011. "Nowcasting Irish GDP," MPRA Paper 32941, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  14. 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.
  15. Bańbura, Marta & Modugno, Michele, 2010. "Maximum likelihood estimation of factor models on data sets with arbitrary pattern of missing data," Working Paper Series 1189, European Central Bank.
  16. 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.
  17. Catherine Doz & Lucrezia Reichlin, 2011. "A two-step estimator for large approximate dynamic factor models based on Kalman filtering," Post-Print hal-00844811, HAL.
  18. Forni, Mario & Hallin, Marc & Lippi, Marco & Reichlin, Lucrezia, 2002. "The Generalized Dynamic Factor Model: One-Sided Estimation and Forecasting," CEPR Discussion Papers 3432, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  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. repec:ulb:ulbeco:2013/9907 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. Durbin, James & Koopman, Siem Jan, 2001. "Time Series Analysis by State Space Methods," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198523543.
  22. Catherine Doz & Lucrezia Reichlin, 2011. "A two-step estimator for large approximate dynamic factor models based on Kalman filtering," Post-Print peer-00844811, HAL.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
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