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What predicts U.S. recessions?

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  • Weiling Liu
  • Emanuel Moench

Abstract

We reassess the predictability of U.S. recessions at horizons from three months to two years ahead for a large number of previously proposed leading-indicator variables. We employ an efficient probit estimator for partially missing data and assess relative model performance based on the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve. While the Treasury term spread has the highest predictive power at horizons four to six quarters ahead, adding lagged observations of the term spread significantly improves the predictability of recessions at shorter horizons. Moreover, balances in broker-dealer margin accounts significantly improve the precision of recession predictions, especially at horizons further out than one year.

Suggested Citation

  • Weiling Liu & Emanuel Moench, 2014. "What predicts U.S. recessions?," Staff Reports 691, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:691
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    recession predictability; ROC; term spread; leading indicators; efficient probit estimator;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C52 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Evaluation, Validation, and Selection
    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E37 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications

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