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

Listed author(s):
  • 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
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:06-19
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  1. 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.
  2. Croushore, Dean & Stark, Tom, 2001. "A real-time data set for macroeconomists," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 111-130, November.
  3. Carlos Capistrán & Allan Timmermann, 2008. "Forecast Combination With Entry and Exit of Experts," CREATES Research Papers 2008-55, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
  4. Stark, Tom & Croushore, Dean, 2002. "Forecasting with a real-time data set for macroeconomists," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 507-531, December.
  5. Vanderhoff, James, 1984. "A `rational' explanation for `irrational' forecasts of inflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 387-392, May.
  6. Laurence Ball & Dean Croushore, 1998. "Expectations and the effects of monetary policy," Working Papers 98-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  7. S. Boragan Aruoba, 2008. "Data Revisions Are Not Well Behaved," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 40(2-3), pages 319-340, 03.
  8. Andrew Ang & Geert Bekaert & Min Wei, 2006. "Do macro variables, asset markets, or surveys forecast inflation better?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2006-15, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. 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.
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  12. Carlos Capistrán & Allan Timmermann, 2008. "Disagreement and Biases in Inflation Expectations," CREATES Research Papers 2008-56, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
  13. Zarnowitz, Victor, 1985. "Rational Expectations and Macroeconomic Forecasts," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(4), pages 293-311, October.
  14. 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 377-398, October.
  15. Michael F. Bryan & Stephen G. Cecchetti, 1994. "Measuring Core Inflation," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy, pages 195-219 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Whitney K. Newey & Kenneth D. West, 1986. "A Simple, Positive Semi-Definite, Heteroskedasticity and AutocorrelationConsistent Covariance Matrix," NBER Technical Working Papers 0055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Harvey, David & Leybourne, Stephen & Newbold, Paul, 1997. "Testing the equality of prediction mean squared errors," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 281-291, June.
  18. Martin Evans & Paul Wachtel, 1993. "Inflation regimes and the sources of inflation uncertainty," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 475-520.
  19. Jon Faust & John H. Rogers & Jonathan H. Wright, 2000. "News and noise in G-7 GDP announcements," International Finance Discussion Papers 690, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  20. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2007. "Why Has U.S. Inflation Become Harder to Forecast?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(s1), pages 3-33, 02.
  21. Davies, Antony, 2006. "A framework for decomposing shocks and measuring volatilities derived from multi-dimensional panel data of survey forecasts," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 373-393.
  22. 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.
  23. Dean Croushore, 1997. "The Livingston Survey: still useful after all these years," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Mar, pages 15-27.
  24. 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.
  25. 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 714-735, September.
  26. Fildes, Robert & Stekler, Herman, 2002. "The state of macroeconomic forecasting," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 435-468, December.
  27. 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 829-853, October.
  28. Dean Croushore, 1993. "Introducing: the survey of professional forecasters," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Nov, pages 3-15.
  29. Fildes, Robert & Stekler, Herman, 2002. "Reply to the comments on 'The state of macroeconomic forecasting'," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 503-505, December.
  30. Wallis, Kenneth F, 1989. "Macroeconomic Forecasting: A Survey," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(394), pages 28-61, March.
  31. Francis X. Diebold & Jose A. Lopez, 1995. "Forecast evaluation and combination," Research Paper 9525, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  32. 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 447-456, November.
  33. Dean Croushore, 1998. "Evaluating inflation forecasts," Working Papers 98-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
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