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Combining the forecasts in the ECB survey of professional forecasters: can anything beat the simple average?


  • Genre, Véronique
  • Kenny, Geoff
  • Meyler, Aidan
  • Timmermann, Allan


In this paper, we explore the potential gains from alternative combinations of the surveyed forecasts in the ECB Survey of Professional Forecasters. Our analysis encompasses a variety of methods including statistical combinations based on principal components analysis and trimmed means, performance-based weighting, least squares estimates of optimal weights as well as Bayesian shrinkage. We provide a pseudo real-time out-of-sample performance evaluation of these alternative combinations and check the sensitivity of the results to possible data-snooping bias. The latter robustness check is also informed using a novel real time meta selection procedure which is not subject to the data-snooping critique. For GDP growth and the unemployment rate, only few of the forecast combination schemes are able to outperform the simple equal-weighted average forecast. Conversely, for the inflation rate there is stronger evidence that more refined combinations can lead to improvement over this benchmark. In particular, for this variable, the relative improvement appears significant even controlling for data snooping bias. JEL Classification: C22, C53

Suggested Citation

  • Genre, Véronique & Kenny, Geoff & Meyler, Aidan & Timmermann, Allan, 2010. "Combining the forecasts in the ECB survey of professional forecasters: can anything beat the simple average?," Working Paper Series 1277, European Central Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20101277

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Domenico Giannone & Jérôme Henry & Magdalena Lalik & Michele Modugno, 2012. "An Area-Wide Real-Time Database for the Euro Area," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(4), pages 1000-1013, November.
    2. Giannone, Domenico & Lenza, Michele & Momferatou, Daphne & Onorante, Luca, 2014. "Short-term inflation projections: A Bayesian vector autoregressive approach," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 635-644.
    3. Diebold, Francis X. & Pauly, Peter, 1990. "The use of prior information in forecast combination," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 503-508, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Oinonen, Sami & Paloviita, Maritta, 2014. "Analysis of aggregated inflation expectations based on the ECB SPF survey," Research Discussion Papers 29/2014, Bank of Finland.
    2. Conflitti, Cristina & De Mol, Christine & Giannone, Domenico, 2015. "Optimal combination of survey forecasts," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 1096-1103.
    3. Driver, Ciaran & Trapani, Lorenzo & Urga, Giovanni, 2013. "On the use of cross-sectional measures of forecast uncertainty," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 367-377.
    4. El-Shagi, Makram & Giesen, Sebastian & Jung, Alexander, 2012. "Does Central Bank Staff Beat Private Forecasters?," IWH Discussion Papers 5/2012, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    5. Öğünç, Fethi & Akdoğan, Kurmaş & Başer, Selen & Chadwick, Meltem Gülenay & Ertuğ, Dilara & Hülagü, Timur & Kösem, Sevim & Özmen, Mustafa Utku & Tekatlı, Necati, 2013. "Short-term inflation forecasting models for Turkey and a forecast combination analysis," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 312-325.
    6. Gary Koop & Luca Onorante, 2011. "Estimating Phillips Curves in Turbulent Times using the ECBs Survey of Professional Forecasters," Working Papers 1109, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.
    7. Luis E. Rojas, 2011. "Professional Forecasters: How to Understand and Exploit Them Through a DSGE Model," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 008945, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
    8. Schnatz, Bernd & D'Agostino, Antonello, 2012. "Survey-based nowcasting of US growth: a real-time forecast comparison over more than 40 years," Working Paper Series 1455, European Central Bank.

    More about this item


    data snooping; forecast combination; forecast evaluation; real-time data; Survey of Professional Forecasters;

    JEL classification:

    • C22 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes
    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods

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