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Improving forecasts of the federal funds rate in a policy model

  • John C. Robertson
  • Ellis W. Tallman

Vector autoregression (VAR) models are widely used for policy analysis. Some authors caution, however, that the forecast errors of the federal funds rate from such a VAR are large compared to those from the federal funds futures market. From these findings, it is argued that the inaccurate federal funds rate forecasts from VARs limit their usefulness as a tool for guiding policy decisions. In this paper, we demonstrate that the poor forecast performance is largely eliminated if a Bayesian estimation technique is used instead of OLS. In particular, using two different data sets we show that the forecasts from the Bayesian VAR dominate the forecasts from OLS VAR models—even after imposing various exact exclusion restrictions on lags and levels of the data.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its series Working Paper with number 99-3.

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Date of creation: 1999
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:99-3
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  1. Daniel F. Waggoner & Tao Zha, 1999. "Conditional Forecasts In Dynamic Multivariate Models," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 639-651, November.
  2. Rudebusch, Glenn D, 1998. "Do Measures of Monetary Policy in a VAR Make Sense?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(4), pages 907-31, November.
  3. Kadiyala, K Rao & Karlsson, Sune, 1997. "Numerical Methods for Estimation and Inference in Bayesian VAR-Models," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(2), pages 99-132, March-Apr.
  4. John C. Robertson & Ellis W. Tallman, 1999. "Vector autoregressions: forecasting and reality," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q1, pages 4-18.
  5. Charles Evans & Kenneth Kuttner, 1998. "Can VARs describe monetary policy?," Research Paper 9812, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  6. Francis X. Diebold & Robert S. Mariano, 1994. "Comparing Predictive Accuracy," NBER Technical Working Papers 0169, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Fair, Ray C & Shiller, Robert J, 1990. "Comparing Information in Forecasts from Econometric Models," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 375-89, June.
  8. Litterman, Robert B, 1986. "Forecasting with Bayesian Vector Autoregressions-Five Years of Experience," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 4(1), pages 25-38, January.
  9. Christopher A. Sims, 1989. "A nine variable probabilistic macroeconomic forecasting model," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 14, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  10. Tao Zha, 1998. "A dynamic multivariate model for use in formulating policy," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q 1, pages 16-29.
  11. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 1997. "Monetary policy shocks: what have we learned and to what end?," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-97-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  12. Sims, Christopher A & Zha, Tao, 1998. "Bayesian Methods for Dynamic Multivariate Models," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(4), pages 949-68, November.
  13. DREZE, Jacques H. & RICHARD, Jean-François, . "Bayesian analysis of siultaneous equation systems," CORE Discussion Papers RP -556, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  14. Thomas Doan & Robert B. Litterman & Christopher A. Sims, 1983. "Forecasting and Conditional Projection Using Realistic Prior Distributions," NBER Working Papers 1202, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. John C. Robertson & Ellis W. Tallman, 1998. "Data vintages and measuring forecast model performance," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q 4, pages 4-20.
  16. Wallis, Kenneth F, 1989. "Macroeconomic Forecasting: A Survey," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(394), pages 28-61, March.
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