IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Factor-MIDAS for Now- and Forecasting with Ragged-Edge Data: A Model Comparison for German GDP

  • Massimiliano Marcellino
  • Christian Schumacher

This paper compares different ways to estimate the current state of the economy using factor models that can handle unbalanced datasets. Due to the different release lags of business cycle indicators, data unbalancedness often emerges at the end of multivariate samples, which is sometimes referred to as the "ragged edge" of the data. Using a large monthly dataset of the German economy, we compare the performance of different factor models in the presence of the ragged edge: static and dynamic principal components based on realigned data, the Expectation-Maximisation (EM) algorithm and the Kalman smoother in a state-space model context. The monthly factors are used to estimate current quarter GDP, called the "nowcast", using different versions of what we call factor-based mixed-data sampling (Factor-MIDAS) approaches. We compare all possible combinations of factor estimation methods and Factor-MIDAS projections with respect to now-cast performance. Additionally, we compare the performance of the nowcast factor models with the performance of quarterly factor models based on time-aggregated and thus balanced data, which neglect the most timely observations of business cycle indicators at the end of the sample. Our empirical findings show that the factor estimation methods don't differ much with respect to nowcasting accuracy. Concerning the projections, the most parsimonious MIDAS projection performs best overall. Finally, quarterly models are in general outperformed by the nowcast factor models that can exploit ragged-edge data.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: main text
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by European University Institute in its series Economics Working Papers with number ECO2008/16.

in new window

Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:eui:euiwps:eco2008/16
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Badia Fiesolana, Via dei Roccettini, 9, 50014 San Domenico di Fiesole (FI) Italy

Phone: +39-055-4685.982
Fax: +39-055-4685.902
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Jean Boivin & Serena Ng, 2005. "Understanding and Comparing Factor-Based Forecasts," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 1(3), December.
  2. Anindya Banerjee & Massimiliano Marcellino & Igor Masten, 2008. "Forecasting Macroeconomic Variables Using Diffusion Indexes in Short Samples with Structural Change," Working Papers 334, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  3. Altissimo, Filippo & Cristadoro, Riccardo & Forni, Mario & Lippi, Marco & Veronese, Giovanni, 2006. "New EuroCOIN: Tracking Economic Growth in Real Time," CEPR Discussion Papers 5633, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Giannone, Domenico & Reichlin, Lucrezia & Small, David, 2005. "Nowcasting GDP and Inflation: The Real Time Informational Content of Macroeconomic Data Releases," CEPR Discussion Papers 5178, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Doz, Catherine & Giannone, Domenico & Reichlin, Lucrezia, 2006. "A Quasi Maximum Likelihood Approach for Large Approximate Dynamic Factor Models," CEPR Discussion Papers 5724, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Antonello D'Agostino & Domenico Giannone & Paolo Surico, 2005. "(Un)Predictability and Macroeconomic Stability," Macroeconomics 0510024, EconWPA.
  7. Marcellino, Massimiliano & Stock, James H. & Watson, Mark W., 2003. "Macroeconomic forecasting in the Euro area: Country specific versus area-wide information," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 1-18, February.
  8. Anindya BANERJEE & Massimiliano MARCELLINO, 2002. "Are There Any Reliable Leading Indicators for US Inflation and GDP Growth?," Economics Working Papers ECO2002/21, European University Institute.
  9. Stock, James H & Watson, Mark W, 2002. "Macroeconomic Forecasting Using Diffusion Indexes," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(2), pages 147-62, April.
  10. Jushan Bai & Serena Ng, 2002. "Determining the Number of Factors in Approximate Factor Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 191-221, January.
  11. Mario Forni & Marc Hallin & Marco Lippi & Lucrezia Reichlin, 2003. "The Generalized Dynamic Factor Model. One-Sided Estimation and Forecasting," LEM Papers Series 2003/13, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  12. Eric Ghysels & Arthur Sinko & Rossen Valkanov, 2007. "MIDAS Regressions: Further Results and New Directions," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(1), pages 53-90.
  13. Bańbura, Marta & Rünstler, Gerhard, 2011. "A look into the factor model black box: Publication lags and the role of hard and soft data in forecasting GDP," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 333-346.
  14. Massimiliano Marcellino & James Stock & Mark Watson, 2005. "A Comparison of Direct and Iterated Multistep AR Methods for Forecasting Macroeconomic Time Series," Working Papers 285, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  15. Schumacher, Christian, 2005. "Forecasting German GDP using alternative factor models based on large datasets," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2005,24, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  16. George Kapetanios & Massimiliano Marcellino, 2009. "A parametric estimation method for dynamic factor models of large dimensions," Journal of Time Series Analysis, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(2), pages 208-238, 03.
  17. Bernanke, Ben S. & Boivin, Jean, 2003. "Monetary policy in a data-rich environment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 525-546, April.
  18. Guillaume Chevillon & David F. Hendry, 2004. "Non-Parametric Direct Multi-step Estimation for Forecasting Economic Processes," Economics Papers 2004-W12, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  19. De Mol, Christine & Giannone, Domenico & Reichlin, Lucrezia, 2006. "Forecasting Using a Large Number of Predictors: Is Bayesian Regression a Valid Alternative to Principal Components?," CEPR Discussion Papers 5829, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. George Kapetanios & Vincent Labhard & Simon Price, 2007. "Forecast combination and the Bank of England’s suite of statistical forecasting models," Bank of England working papers 323, Bank of England.
  21. Angelini, Elena & Henry, Jérôme & Marcellino, Massimiliano, 2003. "Interpolation and backdating with a large information set," Working Paper Series 0252, European Central Bank.
  22. Ard H.J. den Reijer, 2005. "Forecasting Dutch GDP using Large Scale Factor Models," DNB Working Papers 028, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  23. Helmut Lütkepohl & Ralf Brüggemann, 2006. "A small monetary system for the euro area based on German data," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(6), pages 683-702.
  24. Anindya Banerjee & Massimiliano Marcellino & Igor Masten, 2003. "Leading Indicators for Euro-area Inflation and GDP Growth," Working Papers 235, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  25. D'Agostino, Antonello & Giannone, Domenico, 2007. "Comparing Alternative Predictors Based on Large-Panel Factor Models," CEPR Discussion Papers 6564, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  26. Breitung, Jörg & Eickmeier, Sandra, 2005. "Dynamic factor models," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2005,38, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  27. Forni, Mario & Hallin, Marc & Lippi, Marco & Reichlin, Lucrezia, 2003. "Do financial variables help forecasting inflation and real activity in the euro area?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(6), pages 1243-1255, September.
  28. Clements, Michael P & Galvão, Ana Beatriz, 2008. "Macroeconomic Forecasting With Mixed-Frequency Data," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 26, pages 546-554.
  29. Stock, James H. & Watson, Mark W., 2006. "Forecasting with Many Predictors," Handbook of Economic Forecasting, Elsevier.
  30. Bai, Jushan & Ng, Serena, 2007. "Determining the Number of Primitive Shocks in Factor Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 25, pages 52-60, January.
  31. Campbell, Sean D., 2007. "Macroeconomic Volatility, Predictability, and Uncertainty in the Great Moderation: Evidence From the Survey of Professional Forecasters," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 25, pages 191-200, April.
  32. Schumacher, Christian & Breitung, Jörg, 2006. "Real-time forecasting of GDP based on a large factor model with monthly and quarterly data," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2006,33, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  33. Sandra Eickmeier & Christina Ziegler, 2008. "How successful are dynamic factor models at forecasting output and inflation? A meta-analytic approach," Journal of Forecasting, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(3), pages 237-265.
  34. Roberto S. Mariano & Yasutomo Murasawa, 2003. "A new coincident index of business cycles based on monthly and quarterly series," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(4), pages 427-443.
  35. Martin Schneider & Martin Spitzer, 2004. "Forecasting Austrian GDP using the generalized dynamic factor model," Working Papers 89, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank).
  36. Jushan Bai & Serena Ng, 2006. "Confidence Intervals for Diffusion Index Forecasts and Inference for Factor-Augmented Regressions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(4), pages 1133-1150, 07.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eui:euiwps:eco2008/16. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Anne Banks)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.