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Can the Fed Predict the State of the Economy?

  • Tara M. Sinclair

    ()

    (Department of Economics The George Washington University)

  • Fred Joutz

    ()

    (Department of Economics The George Washington University)

  • Herman O. Stekler

    ()

    (Department of Economics The George Washington University)

Recent research has documented that the Federal Reserve produces systematic errors in forecasting inflation, real GDP growth, and the unemployment rate, even though these forecasts are unbiased. We show that these systematic errors reveal that the Fed is “surprised” by real and inflationary cycles. Using a modified Mincer-Zarnowitz regression, we show that the Fed knows the state of the economy for the current quarter, but cannot predict it one quarter ahead.

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File URL: http://www.gwu.edu/~forcpgm/2009-001.pdf
File Function: First version, 2009
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by The George Washington University, Department of Economics, Research Program on Forecasting in its series Working Papers with number 2009-001.

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Length: 10 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2009
Date of revision: Mar 2010
Handle: RePEc:gwc:wpaper:2009-001
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  1. Allan Timmermann & Graham Elliott & Ivana Komunjer, 2004. "Biases in Macroeconomic Forecasts: Irrationality or Asymmetric Loss?," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 601, Econometric Society.
  2. Jacob A. Mincer & Victor Zarnowitz, 1969. "The Evaluation of Economic Forecasts," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Forecasts and Expectations: Analysis of Forecasting Behavior and Performance, pages 1-46 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Carlos Capistrán-Carmona, 2005. "Bias in Federal Reserve Inflation Forecasts: Is the Federal Reserve Irrational or Just Cautious?," Computing in Economics and Finance 2005 127, Society for Computational Economics.
  4. Swanson, Norman R. & van Dijk, Dick, 2006. "Are Statistical Reporting Agencies Getting It Right? Data Rationality and Business Cycle Asymmetry," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 24, pages 24-42, January.
  5. Joutz, Fred & Stekler, H. O., 2000. "An evaluation of the predictions of the Federal Reserve," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 17-38.
  6. Holden, K & Peel, D A, 1990. "On Testing for Unbiasedness and Efficiency of Forecasts," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 58(2), pages 120-27, June.
  7. Karen E. Dynan & Douglas Elmendorf, 2001. "Do provisional estimates of output miss economic turning points?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-52, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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