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How informative are the subjective density forecasts of macroeconomists?

  • Kenny, Geoff
  • Kostka, Thomas
  • Masera, Federico

In this paper, we propose a framework to evaluate the subjective density forecasts of macroeconomists using micro data from the euro area Survey of Professional Forecasters (SPF). A key aspect of our analysis is the evaluation of the entire predictive densities, including an evaluation of the impact of density features such as location, spread, skew and tail risk on density forecast performance. Overall, we find considerable heterogeneity in the performance of the surveyed densities at the individual level. Relative to a set of simple benchmarks, this performance is somewhat better for GDP growth than for inflation, although in the former case it diminishes substantially with the forecast horizon. In addition, we report evidence of some improvement in the relative performance of expert densities during the recent period of macroeconomic volatility. However, our analysis also reveals clear evidence of overconfidence or neglected risks in expert probability assessments, as reflected in frequent occurrences of events which are assigned a zero probability. Moreover, higher moment features of expert densities, such as skew or the degree of probability mass in their tails, are shown not to contribute significantly to improvements in individual density forecast performance. JEL Classification: C22, C53

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Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 1446.

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Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20121446
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  1. Zarnowitz, Victor & Lambros, Louis A, 1987. "Consensus and Uncertainty in Economic Prediction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 591-621, June.
  2. Geweke, John & Amisano, Gianni, 2009. "Optimal Prediction Pools," Working Paper Series 1017, European Central Bank.
  3. Ghysels, Eric & Wright, Jonathan H., 2009. "Forecasting Professional Forecasters," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 27(4), pages 504-516.
  4. repec:nsr:niesrd:320 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Victor Zarnowitz & Louis A. Lambros, 1983. "Consensus and Uncertainty in Economic Prediction," NBER Working Papers 1171, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Lahiri, Kajal & Teigland, Christie & Zaporowski, Mark, 1988. "Interest Rates and the Subjective Probability Distribution of Inflation Forecasts," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 20(2), pages 233-48, May.
  7. Robert Rich & Joseph Tracy, 2010. "The Relationships among Expected Inflation, Disagreement, and Uncertainty: Evidence from Matched Point and Density Forecasts," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(1), pages 200-207, February.
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