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Are the Fed’s Inflation Forecasts Still Superior to the Private Sector’s?

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  • Edward N. Gamber

    () (Department of Economics and Business, Lafayette College)

  • Julie K. Smith

    () (Department of Economics and Business,Lafayette College)

Abstract

We examine the relative improvement in forecasting accuracy of the Federal Reserve (Greenbook forecasts) and private-sector forecasts (the Survey of Professional Forecasters and Blue Chip Economic Indicators) for inflation. Previous research by Romer and Romer (2000), and Sims (2002) shows that the Fed is more accurate than the private sector at forecasting inflation. In a separate line of research, Atkeson and Ohanian (2001) and Stock and Watson (2007) document changes in the forecastability of inflation since the Great Moderation. These works suggest that the reduced inflation variability associated with Great Moderation was mostly due to a decline in the variability of the predictable component inflation. We hypothesize that the decline in the variability of the predictable component of inflation has evened the playing field between the Fed and private sector and therefore led to a narrowing, if not disappearance, of the Fed’s relative forecasting advantage. We find that the Fed’s forecast errors remain significantly smaller than the private sector’s but the gap has narrowed considerable since the mid-1980s, especially after 1994.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward N. Gamber & Julie K. Smith, 2007. "Are the Fed’s Inflation Forecasts Still Superior to the Private Sector’s?," Working Papers 2007-002, The George Washington University, Department of Economics, H. O. Stekler Research Program on Forecasting, revised Jul 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:gwc:wpaper:2007-002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    forecasting inflation; Survey of Professional Forecasters; Blue Chip forecasts; Greenbook forecasts; naïve forecasts;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E37 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications

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