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Forecaster Behaviour and Bias in Macroeconomic Forecasts

  • Roy Batchelor

This paper documents the presence of systematic bias in the real GDP and inflation forecasts of private sector forecasters in the G7 economies in the years 1990–2005. The data come from the monthly Consensus Economics forecasting service, and bias is measured and tested for significance using parametric fixed effect panel regressions and nonparametric tests on accuracy ranks. We examine patterns across countries and forecasters to establish whether the bias reflects the inefficient use of information, or whether it reflects a rational response to financial, reputational and other incentives operating for forecasters. In several G7 countries – Japan, Italy, Germany and France – there is evidence of a change in the trend growth rate. In these circumstances, standard tests for rationality are inappropriate, and a bias towards optimism in the consensus forecast is inevitable as rational forecasters learn about the new trend. In all countries there is evidence that individual forecasters converge on the consensus forecast too slowly. However, the persistent optimism of some forecasters, and the persistent pessimism of others, is not consistent with the predictions of models of “rational bias” that have become popular in the finance and economics literature.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-Ifo_Working_Papers/wp-ifo-2005-2010/IfoWorkingPaper-39.pdf
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Paper provided by Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich in its series Ifo Working Paper Series with number Ifo Working Paper No. 39.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ifowps:_39
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  11. Roy Batchelor, 2001. "How useful are the forecasts of intergovernmental agencies? The IMF and OECD versus the consensus," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(2), pages 225-235.
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  15. Michel Beine & Agnès Bénassy-Quéré & Hélène Colas, 2003. "Imitation Amongst Exchange-Rate Forecasters: Evidence from Survey Data," Working Papers 2003-08, CEPII research center.
  16. Ehrbeck, Tilman & Waldmann, Robert, 1996. "Why Are Professional Forecasters Biased? Agency versus Behavioral Explanations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(1), pages 21-40, February.
  17. Sushil Bikhchandani & Sunil Sharma, 2001. "Herd Behavior in Financial Markets," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 47(3), pages 1.
  18. Estrin, Saul & Holmes, Peter, 1990. "Indicative planning in developed economies," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 531-554, December.
  19. Harrison Hong & Jeffrey D. Kubik, 2003. "Analyzing the Analysts: Career Concerns and Biased Earnings Forecasts," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(1), pages 313-351, 02.
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