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Forecasting (and Explaining) US Business Cycles

Author

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  • Muellbauer, John
  • Nunziata, Luca

Abstract

This Paper uses multi-step forecasting models at horizons of 4 and 8 quarters to forecast and explain the growth of real per capita US GDP. In the modeling strategy, a priori sign restrictions play an important role. They are imposed not on impulse response functions but directly on the reduced form single or multi-step equations, unlike in recent work by Uhlig and Canova. This is possible because in this context, the reduced form inherits important structural sign properties; basically, that autonomous expenditure has positive effects on near future GDP. We consider an economically large class of variables, including effects from interest rates, the credit channel and asset prices, the real exchange rate, yield spreads, inflation and interest rate volatility, oil prices (including asymmetries), structural breaks in fiscal and monetary policy, the recent behaviour of consumption, investment and profitability, and the evolutionary effect of globalization on the balance of payments constraint. We follow a general to specific methodology, including the help of PCGETS (Hendry and Krolzig, 2001) to reduce general models to more parsimonious ones. Relative to conventional VARs, our models imply longer lag structures than ever considered in VARs, as well as non-linearities, and so could never have been found with conventional VAR restrictions. Our results thus contradict the suggestion of Sims (1980) that VARs can resolve the problem of ‘incredible restrictions’ embodied in large macro econometric models. Our exercise of learning from the data through general to specific modeling is likely, in many cases, also to contradict the lag structures of such models. We present a range of models with remarkable recursive forecasting performance since 1982 and show that similar models could have been selected with 1982 data by applying similar methods then. Out of sample forecasts with such models since March 2001, when we forecast that 2001 would be a recession year, have also been successful.

Suggested Citation

  • Muellbauer, John & Nunziata, Luca, 2004. "Forecasting (and Explaining) US Business Cycles," CEPR Discussion Papers 4584, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4584
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Mandler, Martin, 2007. "Decomposing Federal Funds Rate forecast uncertainty using real-time data," MPRA Paper 13498, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jan 2009.
    2. Bowdler, Christopher, 2009. "Openness, exchange rate regimes and the Phillips curve," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 148-160, February.
    3. Mandler, Martin, 2007. "The Taylor rule and interest rate uncertainty in the U.S. 1955-2006," MPRA Paper 2340, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    business cycles; fiscal policy; monetary policy; multi-step forecasting; oil shocks;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E37 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E63 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy

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