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An evaluation of inflation forecasts from surveys using real-time data

  • Dean Croushore

This paper carries out the task of evaluating inflation forecasts from the Livingston Survey and the Survey of Professional Forecasters, using the real-time data set for macroeconomists as a source of real-time data. The author examines the magnitude and patterns of revisions to the inflation rate based on the output price index and describe what data to use as “actuals” in evaluating forecasts. The author then runs tests on the forecasts from the surveys to see how good they are, using a variety of actuals. The author finds that much of the empirical work from 20 years ago was a misleading guide to the quality of forecasts because of unique events during the earlier sample period. Repeating that empirical work over a longer sample period shows no bias or other problems in the forecasts. The use of real-time data also matters for some key tests on some variables. If a forecaster had used the empirical results from the late 1970s and early 1980s to adjust survey forecasts of inflation, forecast errors would have increased substantially.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 06-19.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:06-19
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  1. Dean Croushore & Tom Stark, 2003. "A Real-Time Data Set for Macroeconomists: Does the Data Vintage Matter?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 605-617, August.
  2. Hansen, Lars Peter & Hodrick, Robert J, 1980. "Forward Exchange Rates as Optimal Predictors of Future Spot Rates: An Econometric Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(5), pages 829-53, October.
  3. Dean Croushore & Tom Stark, 1999. "A real-time data set for macroeconomists," Working Papers 99-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  4. Dean Croushore, 1993. "Introducing: the survey of professional forecasters," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Nov, pages 3-15.
  5. Pearce, Douglas K, 1979. "Comparing Survey and Rational Measures of Expected Inflation: Forecast Performance and Interest Rate Effects," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 11(4), pages 447-56, November.
  6. Roy H. Webb, 1987. "The irrelevance of tests for bias in series of macroeconomic forecasts," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Nov, pages 3-9.
  7. 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.
  8. Andrew Ang & Geert Bekaert & Min Wei, 2005. "Do Macro Variables, Asset Markets or Surveys Forecast Inflation Better?," NBER Working Papers 11538, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Michael F. Bryan & Stephen G. Cecchetti, 1993. "Measuring Core Inflation," NBER Working Papers 4303, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2006. "Why Has U.S. Inflation Become Harder to Forecast?," NBER Working Papers 12324, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Dean Croushore, 1997. "The Livingston Survey: still useful after all these years," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Mar, pages 15-27.
  12. Dean Croushore, 1998. "Evaluating inflation forecasts," Working Papers 98-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  13. Brown, Bryan W & Maital, Shlomo, 1981. "What Do Economists Know? An Empirical Study of Experts' Expectations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(2), pages 491-504, March.
  14. Tom Stark and Dean Croushore, 2001. "Forecasting with a Real-Time Data Set for Macroeconomists," Computing in Economics and Finance 2001 258, Society for Computational Economics.
  15. Francis X. Diebold & Jose A. Lopez, 1996. "Forecast Evaluation and Combination," NBER Technical Working Papers 0192, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Newey, Whitney K & West, Kenneth D, 1987. "A Simple, Positive Semi-definite, Heteroskedasticity and Autocorrelation Consistent Covariance Matrix," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(3), pages 703-08, May.
  17. Vanderhoff, James, 1984. "A `rational' explanation for `irrational' forecasts of inflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 387-392, May.
  18. 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.
  19. Hafer, R W & Hein, Scott E, 1985. "On the Accuracy of Time-Series, Interest Rate, and Survey Forecasts of Inflation," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58(4), pages 377-98, October.
  20. Zarnowitz, Victor, 1985. "Rational Expectations and Macroeconomic Forecasts," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(4), pages 293-311, October.
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