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What Central Bankers Need to Know about Forecasting Oil Prices

  • Baumeister, Christiane
  • Kilian, Lutz

Recent research has shown that recursive real-time VAR forecasts of the real price of oil tend to be more accurate than forecasts based on oil futures prices of the type commonly employed by central banks worldwide. Such monthly forecasts, however, differ in several important dimensions from the forecasts central banks require when making policy decisions. First, central banks are interested in forecasts of the quarterly real price of oil rather than forecasts of the monthly real price of oil. Second, many central banks are interested in forecasting the real price of Brent crude oil rather than any of the U.S. benchmarks. Third, central banks outside the United States are interested in forecasting the real price of oil measured in domestic consumption units rather than U.S. consumption units. Addressing each of these three concerns involves modeling choices that affect the relative accuracy of alternative forecasting methods. In addition, we investigate the costs and benefits of allowing for time variation in VAR model parameters and of constructing forecast combinations. We conclude that quarterly forecasts of the real price of oil from suitably designed VAR models estimated on monthly data generate the most accurate forecasts among a wide range of methods including forecasts based on oil futures prices, nochange forecasts and forecasts based on models estimated on quarterly data.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 9118.

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Date of creation: Sep 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9118
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  1. Clark, Todd E. & McCracken, Michael W., 2009. "Tests of Equal Predictive Ability With Real-Time Data," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 27(4), pages 441-454.
  2. Christiane Baumeister & Lutz Kilian, 2011. "Real-Time Forecasts of the Real Price of Oil," Staff Working Papers 11-16, Bank of Canada.
  3. Christiane Baumeister & Gert Peersman, 2011. "The Role of Time-Varying Price Elasticities in Accounting for Volatility Changes in the Crude Oil Market," Staff Working Papers 11-28, Bank of Canada.
  4. Lutz Kilian & Daniel P. Murphy, 2014. "The Role Of Inventories And Speculative Trading In The Global Market For Crude Oil," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(3), pages 454-478, 04.
  5. Giannone, Domenico & Henry, Jérôme & Lalik, Magdalena & Modugno, Michele, 2010. "An Area-Wide Real-Time Database for the Euro Area," CEPR Discussion Papers 7673, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Ron Alquist & Lutz Kilian & Robert J. Vigfusson, 2011. "Forecasting the Price of Oil," Staff Working Papers 11-15, Bank of Canada.
  7. Ron Alquist & Lutz Kilian, 2010. "What do we learn from the price of crude oil futures?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(4), pages 539-573.
  8. Giannone, Domenico & Lenza, Michele & Primiceri, Giorgio E., 2012. "Prior selection for vector autoregressions," Working Paper Series 1494, European Central Bank.
  9. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2001. "Forecasting output and inflation: the role of asset prices," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Mar.
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  11. Inoue, Atsushi & Kilian, Lutz, 2003. "On the selection of forecasting models," Working Paper Series 0214, European Central Bank.
  12. Cogley, Timothy W. & Morozov, Sergei & Sargent, Thomas J., 2003. "Bayesian fan charts for UK inflation: Forecasting and sources of uncertainty in an evolving monetary system," CFS Working Paper Series 2003/44, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  13. Frank Schorfheide & Dongho Song, 2013. "Real-Time Forecasting with a Mixed-Frequency VAR," NBER Working Papers 19712, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Lutz Kilian, 2009. "Not All Oil Price Shocks Are Alike: Disentangling Demand and Supply Shocks in the Crude Oil Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 1053-69, June.
  15. Antonello D'Agostino & Luca Gambetti & Domenico Giannone, 2013. "Macroeconomic forecasting and structural change," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(1), pages 82-101, 01.
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  18. Dean Croushore, 2008. "Frontiers of real-time data analysis," Working Papers 08-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
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