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Optimal Forecast Combination Under General Loss Functions and Forecast Error Distributions

  • Elliott, Graham
  • Timmermann, Allan

Existing results on the properties and performance of forecast combinations have been derived in the context of mean squared error loss. Under this loss function empirical studies have generally found that estimates of optimal forecast combination weights lead to higher losses than equally-weighted combined forecasts which in turn outperform the best individual predictions. We show that this and other results can be overturned when asymmetries are introduced in the loss function and the forecast error distribution is skewed. We characterize the optimal combination weights for the most commonly used alternatives to mean squared error loss and demonstrate how the degree of asymmetry in the loss function and skews in the underlying forecast error distribution can significantly change the optimal combination weights. We also propose estimation methods and investigate their small sample properties in simulations and in an inflation forecasting exercise.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC San Diego in its series University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series with number qt15r9t2q2.

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Date of creation: 29 Apr 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsdec:qt15r9t2q2
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  1. Diebold, Francis X & Gunther, Todd A & Tay, Anthony S, 1998. "Evaluating Density Forecasts with Applications to Financial Risk Management," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(4), pages 863-83, November.
  2. Christoffersen, Peter F. & Diebold, Francis X., 1997. "Optimal Prediction Under Asymmetric Loss," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(06), pages 808-817, December.
  3. Marcellino, Massimiliano, 2002. "Forecast Pooling for Short Time Series of Macroeconomic Variables," CEPR Discussion Papers 3313, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  7. Diebold, Francis X, 1988. "Serial Correlation and the Combination of Forecasts," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 6(1), pages 105-11, January.
  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. Newey, Whitney K & Powell, James L, 1987. "Asymmetric Least Squares Estimation and Testing," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(4), pages 819-47, July.
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  11. Min, Chung-ki & Zellner, Arnold, 1993. "Bayesian and non-Bayesian methods for combining models and forecasts with applications to forecasting international growth rates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1-2), pages 89-118, March.
  12. Kenneth D. West & Hali J. Edison & Dongchul Cho, 1993. "A utility based comparison of some models of exchange rate volatility," International Finance Discussion Papers 441, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. Francis X. Diebold & Jose A. Lopez, 1996. "Forecast Evaluation and Combination," NBER Technical Working Papers 0192, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Clive W.J. Granger, 1999. "Outline of forecast theory using generalized cost functions," Spanish Economic Review, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 161-173.
  15. Weiss, Andrew A, 1996. "Estimating Time Series Models Using the Relevant Cost Function," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(5), pages 539-60, Sept.-Oct.
  16. David Laster & Paul Bennett & In Sun Geoum, 1999. "Rational Bias In Macroeconomic Forecasts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 293-318, February.
  17. Yeung Lewis Chan & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1999. "A dynamic factor model framework for forecast combination," Spanish Economic Review, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 91-121.
  18. Koenker, Roger W & Bassett, Gilbert, Jr, 1978. "Regression Quantiles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 33-50, January.
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