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Bayesian VARs: specification choices and forecast accuracy

  • Andrea Carriero
  • Todd Clark
  • Massimiliano Marcellino

In this paper we examine how the forecasting performance of Bayesian VARs is affected by a number of specification choices. In the baseline case, we use a Normal-Inverted Wishart prior that, when combined with a (pseudo-) iterated approach, makes the analytical computation of multi-step forecasts feasible and simple, in particular when using standard and fixed values for the tightness and the lag length. We then assess the role of the optimal choice of the tightness, of the lag length and of both; compare alternative approaches to multi-step forecasting (direct, iterated, and pseudo-iterated); discuss the treatment of the error variance and of cross-variable shrinkage; and address a set of additional issues, including the size of the VAR, modeling in levels or growth rates, and the extent of forecast bias induced by shrinkage. We obtain a large set of empirical results, but we can summarize them by saying that we find very small losses (and sometimes even gains) from the adoption of specification choices that make BVAR modeling quick and easy. This finding could therefore further enhance the diffusion of the BVAR as an econometric tool for a vast range of applications.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland in its series Working Paper with number 1112.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcwp:1112
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  1. Jonathan H. Wright, 2003. "Forecasting U.S. inflation by Bayesian Model Averaging," International Finance Discussion Papers 780, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  4. Giannone, Domenico & Lenza, Michele & Momferatou, Daphne & Onorante, Luca, 2010. "Short-Term Inflation Projections: a Bayesian Vector Autoregressive approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 7746, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  15. 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.
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  20. Kadiyala, K. Rao & Karlsson, Sune, 1994. "Numerical Aspects of Bayesian VAR-modeling," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 12, Stockholm School of Economics.
  21. Andrea Carriero & George Kapetanios & Massimiliano Marcellino, 2010. "Forecasting Government Bond Yields with Large Bayesian VARs," Working Papers 662, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
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