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Anchoring bias in consensus forecasts and its effect on market prices

  • Sean D. Campbell
  • Steven A. Sharpe

Previous empirical studies that test for the "rationality" of economic and financial forecasts generally test for generic properties such as bias or autocorrelated errors, and provide limited insight into the behavior behind inefficient forecasts. In this paper we test for a specific behavioral bias -- the anchoring bias described by Tversky and Kahneman (1974). In particular, we examine whether expert consensus forecasts of monthly economic releases from Money Market Services surveys from 1990-2006 have a tendency to be systematically biased toward the value of previous months' data releases. We find broad-based and significant evidence for the anchoring hypothesis; consensus forecasts are biased towards the values of previous months' data releases, which in some cases results in sizable predictable forecast errors. Then, to investigate whether the market participants anticipate the bias, we examine the response of interest rates to economic news. We find that bond yields react only to the residual, or unpredictable, component of the surprise and not to the expected piece of the forecast error apparently induced by anchoring. This suggests market participants anticipate the anchoring bias embedded in expert forecasts.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2007-12.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2007-12
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  1. Mullineaux, Donald J, 1978. "On Testing for Rationality: Another Look at the Livingston Price Expectations Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(2), pages 329-36, April.
  2. Torben G. Andersen & Tim Bollerslev & Francis X. Diebold & Clara Vega, 2002. "Micro Effects of Macro Announcements: Real-Time Price Discovery in Foreign Exchange," NBER Working Papers 8959, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Newey, Whitney K., 1984. "A method of moments interpretation of sequential estimators," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 14(2-3), pages 201-206.
  4. Marco Ottaviani & Peter Norman Sørensen, 2004. "The Strategy of Professional Forecasting," FRU Working Papers 2004/05, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Finance Research Unit.
  5. Zarnowitz, Victor, 1985. "Rational Expectations and Macroeconomic Forecasts," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(4), pages 293-311, October.
  6. Refet S. Gürkaynak & Brian Sack & Eric Swanson, 2003. "The excess sensitivity of long-term interest rates: evidence and implications for macroeconomic models," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-50, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Refet S. Gürkaynak & Brian Sack & Eric Swanson, 2005. "The Sensitivity of Long-Term Interest Rates to Economic News: Evidence and Implications for Macroeconomic Models," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 425-436, March.
  8. Pierluigi Balduzzi & Edwin J. Elton & T. Clifton Green, 1997. "Economic News and the Yield Curve: Evidence from the U.S. Treasury Market," New York University, Leonard N. Stern School Finance Department Working Paper Seires 98-005, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business-.
  9. Frederic S. Mishkin, 1983. "Are Market Forecasts Rational?," NBER Chapters, in: A Rational Expectations Approach to Macroeconomics: Testing Policy Ineffectiveness and Efficient-Markets Models, pages 59-75 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Jeffrey A. Frankel & Kenneth A. Froot, 1985. "Using Survey Data to Test Some Standard Propositions Regarding Exchange Rate Expectations," NBER Working Papers 1672, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Ehrbeck, Tilman & Waldmann, Robert, 1996. "Why Are Professional Forecasters Biased? Agency versus Behavioral Explanations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(1), pages 21-40, February.
  12. Frankel, Jeff & Froot, Ken, 1986. "Using Survey Data to Test Standard Propositions Regarding Exchange Rate Expectations," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt1972q8wm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  13. Aggarwal, Raj & Mohanty, Sunil & Song, Frank, 1995. "Are Survey Forecasts of Macroeconomic Variables Rational?," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 68(1), pages 99-119, January.
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