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Modeling uncertainty: predictive accuracy as a proxy for predictive confidence

  • Robert Rich
  • Joseph Tracy

This paper evaluates current strategies for the empirical modeling of forecast behavior. In particular, we focus on the reliability of using proxies from time series models of heteroskedasticity to describe changes in predictive confidence. We address this issue by examining the relationship between ex post forecast errors and ex ante measures of forecast uncertainty from data on inflation forecasts from the Survey of Professional Forecasters. The results provide little evidence of a strong link between observed heteroskedasticity in the consensus forecast errors and forecast uncertainty. Instead, the findings indicate a significant link between observed heteroskedasticity in the consensus forecast errors and forecast dispersion. We conclude that conventional model-based measures of uncertainty may be capturing not the degree of confidence that individuals attach to their forecasts but rather the degree of disagreement across individuals in their forecasts.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 161.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:161
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  1. Nicholas S. Souleles, 2001. "Consumer Sentiment: Its Rationality and Usefulness in Forecasting Expenditure - Evidence from the Michigan Micro Data," NBER Working Papers 8410, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Francis X. Diebold & Anthony S. Tay & Kenneth F. Wallis, 1997. "Evaluating Density Forecasts of Inflation: The Survey of Professional Forecasters," NBER Working Papers 6228, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Lloyd B. Thomas, 1999. "Survey Measures of Expected U.S. Inflation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 125-144, Fall.
  4. Pennacchi, George G, 1991. "Identifying the Dynamics of Real Interest Rates and Inflation: Evidence Using Survey Data," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 4(1), pages 53-86.
  5. Christopher D. Carroll, 2001. "The Epidemiology of Macroeconomic Expectations," NBER Working Papers 8695, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Dean Croushore, 1993. "Introducing: the survey of professional forecasters," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Nov, pages 3-15.
  7. Victor Zarnowitz, 1984. "Business Cycles Analysis and Expectational Survey Data," NBER Working Papers 1378, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Keane, Michael P & Runkle, David E, 1990. "Testing the Rationality of Price Forecasts: New Evidence from Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 714-35, September.
  9. Bonham, Carl & Cohen, Richard, 1995. "Testing the Rationality of Price Forecasts: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 284-89, March.
  10. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1972. "Expectations and the neutrality of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 103-124, April.
  11. Giordani, Paolo & Soderlind, Paul, 2003. "Inflation forecast uncertainty," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(6), pages 1037-1059, December.
  12. Bomberger, William A, 1996. "Disagreement as a Measure of Uncertainty," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(3), pages 381-92, August.
  13. Batchelor, Roy & Dua, Pami, 1991. "Blue Chip Rationality Tests," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 23(4), pages 692-705, November.
  14. Bollerslev, Tim & Chou, Ray Y. & Kroner, Kenneth F., 1992. "ARCH modeling in finance : A review of the theory and empirical evidence," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 52(1-2), pages 5-59.
  15. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-54, July.
  16. Lahiri, Kajal & Teigland, Christie & Zaporowski, Mark, 1988. "Interest Rates and the Subjective Probability Distribution of Inflation Forecasts," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 20(2), pages 233-48, May.
  17. Cukierman, Alex & Wachtel, Paul, 1979. "Differential Inflationary Expectations and the Variability of the Rate of Inflation: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(4), pages 595-609, September.
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