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Yield spreads as predictors of economic activity: a real-time VAR analysis


  • Kishor, N. Kundan
  • Koenig, Evan F.

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas)


We undertake a real-time VAR analysis of the usefulness of the term spread, the junk-bond spread, the ISM's New Orders Index, and broker/dealer equity for predicting growth in non-farm employment. To get around the "apples and oranges" problem described by Koenig, Dolmas and Piger (2003), we augment each VAR we consider with a flexible state-space model of employment revisions. This methodology produces jobs forecasts consistently superior to those obtained using conventional VAR analysis. They are also superior to Federal Reserve Greenbook forecasts and to median forecasts from the Survey of Professional Forecasters. The junk-bond spread is by far the best single predictor of future jobs growth. However, the term spread has some incremental predictive power at medium-to-long horizons. The incremental predictive power of broker/dealer equity, while small, exceeds that of the ISM index at every horizon.

Suggested Citation

  • Kishor, N. Kundan & Koenig, Evan F., 2010. "Yield spreads as predictors of economic activity: a real-time VAR analysis," Working Papers 1008, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:feddwp:1008 Note: Published as: N. Kundan Kishor and Evan F. Koenig (2014), "Credit Indicators as Predictors of Economic Activity: A Real–Time VAR Analysis," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking 46 (2-3): 545-564.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Menzie Chinn & Kavan Kucko, 2015. "The Predictive Power of the Yield Curve Across Countries and Time," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(2), pages 129-156, June.
    2. Arturo Estrella & Frederic S. Mishkin, 1998. "Predicting U.S. Recessions: Financial Variables As Leading Indicators," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(1), pages 45-61, February.
    3. Bernanke, Ben S. & Gertler, Mark & Gilchrist, Simon, 1999. "The financial accelerator in a quantitative business cycle framework," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 21, pages 1341-1393 Elsevier.
    4. Arturo Estrella & Anthony P. Rodrigues & Sebastian Schich, 2003. "How Stable is the Predictive Power of the Yield Curve? Evidence from Germany and the United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 629-644, August.
    5. Shin, Hyun Song & Adrian, Tobias, 2008. "Financial intermediaries, financial stability and monetary policy," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 287-334.
    6. Estrella, Arturo & Hardouvelis, Gikas A, 1991. " The Term Structure as a Predictor of Real Economic Activity," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(2), pages 555-576, June.
    7. Rudebusch, Glenn D. & Williams, John C., 2009. "Forecasting Recessions: The Puzzle of the Enduring Power of the Yield Curve," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 27(4), pages 492-503.
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    Cited by:

    1. De Pace, Pierangelo & Weber, Kyle D., 2016. "The time-varying leading properties of the high yield spread in the United States," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 203-230.

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    Employment forecasting; Asset pricing;

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