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Measuring Output Gap Nowcast Uncertainty

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  • Anthony Garratt
  • James Mitchell
  • Shaun P. Vahey

Abstract

We propose a methodology to gauge the uncertainty in output gap nowcasts across a large number of commonly-deployed vector autoregressions in US inflation and various measures of the output gap. Our approach constructs ensemble nowcast densities using a linear opinion pool. This yields well-calibrated nowcasts for US inflation in real time from 1991q2 to 2010q1, in contrast to those from a univariate autoregressive benchmark. The ensemble nowcast densities for the output gap are considerably more complex than for a single VAR specification. They cannot be described adequately by the first two moments of the forecast densities. To illustrate the usefulness of our approach, we calculate the probability of a negative output gap at around 45 percent between 2004 and 2007. Despite the Greenspan policy regime, and some large point estimates of the output gap, there remained a substantial risk that output was below potential in real time. Our ensemble approach also facilitates probabilistic assessments of “alternative scenarios”. A “dove” scenario (based on distinct output gap measurements) typically raises substantially the probability of a negative output gap (including 2004 through 2007) but has little impact in slumps, in our illustrative example.

Suggested Citation

  • Anthony Garratt & James Mitchell & Shaun P. Vahey, 2011. "Measuring Output Gap Nowcast Uncertainty," CAMA Working Papers 2011-16, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:een:camaaa:2011-16
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    Cited by:

    1. Buncic, Daniel & Müller, Oliver, 2017. "Measuring the output gap in Switzerland with linear opinion pools," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 153-171.
    2. Florian Eckert & Nina Mühlebach, 2021. "Global and Local Components of Output Gaps," KOF Working papers 21-497, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    3. Yu-Fan Huang & Sui Luo, 2018. "Potential output and inflation dynamics after the Great Recession," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 55(2), pages 495-517, September.
    4. Berger, Tino & Morley, James & Wong, Benjamin, 2023. "Nowcasting the output gap," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 232(1), pages 18-34.
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    5. de Carvalho, Miguel & Rua, António, 2017. "Real-time nowcasting the US output gap: Singular spectrum analysis at work," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 185-198.
    6. Wolden Bache, Ida & Sofie Jore, Anne & Mitchell, James & Vahey, Shaun P., 2011. "Combining VAR and DSGE forecast densities," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(10), pages 1659-1670, October.
    7. Marek Jarociński & Michele Lenza, 2018. "An Inflation‐Predicting Measure of the Output Gap in the Euro Area," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 50(6), pages 1189-1224, September.
    8. Tommaso Proietti & Martyna Marczak & Gianluigi Mazzi, 2017. "Euromind‐ D : A Density Estimate of Monthly Gross Domestic Product for the Euro Area," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(3), pages 683-703, April.
    9. Edward Knotek & Saeed Zaman, 2020. "Real-time density nowcasts of US inflation: a model-combination approach," Working Papers 2015, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.
    10. Garratt, Anthony & Mitchell, James & Vahey, Shaun P., 2014. "Probability Forecasting for Inflation Warnings from the Federal Reserve," EMF Research Papers 07, Economic Modelling and Forecasting Group.
    11. Bańbura, Marta & Bobeica, Elena, 2023. "Does the Phillips curve help to forecast euro area inflation?," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 364-390.
    12. James Morley & Benjamin Wong, 2020. "Estimating and accounting for the output gap with large Bayesian vector autoregressions," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 35(1), pages 1-18, January.
    13. Chalmovianský, Jakub & Němec, Daniel, 2022. "Assessing uncertainty of output gap estimates: Evidence from Visegrad countries," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 116(C).
    14. Travis J. Berge, 2020. "Time-varying Uncertainty of the Federal Reserve’s Output Gap Estimate," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2020-012r1, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), revised 14 Apr 2021.
    15. Anthony Garratt & Ivan Petrella, 2022. "Commodity prices and inflation risk," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 37(2), pages 392-414, March.
    16. James Morley, 2019. "The business cycle: periodic pandemic or rollercoaster ride?," International Journal of Economic Policy Studies, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 425-431, August.

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    • C32 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes; State Space Models
    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • E37 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications

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