IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/gwc/wpaper/2016-011.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Expectations and Forecasting during the Great Depression: Real-Time Evidence from the Business Press

Author

Listed:
  • Gabriel Mathy

    () (American University)

  • Herman O. Stekler

    () (The George Washington University)

Abstract

How was the Great Depression viewed in real time? This paper yields a new perspective on this question by quantifying the qualitative statements of economic analysts in the business press and at the Federal Reserve Board. We compare the statements of economic analysts about current and future conditions to what actually happened to the American economy in the Great Depression. While Depression-era economic forecasters were able to accurately assess what was happening contemporaneously in the economy, forecasters were persistently optimistic that “the corner had been turned” and that a strong recovery was imminent even as the economy continued to decline. This optimism was based on the use of analogies and rules of thumb which were no longer applicable.

Suggested Citation

  • Gabriel Mathy & Herman O. Stekler, 2016. "Expectations and Forecasting during the Great Depression: Real-Time Evidence from the Business Press," Working Papers 2016-011, The George Washington University, Department of Economics, Research Program on Forecasting.
  • Handle: RePEc:gwc:wpaper:2016-011
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www2.gwu.edu/~forcpgm/2016-011.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2016
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Balke, Nathan S & Petersen, D'Ann, 2002. "How Well Does the Beige Book Reflect Economic Activity? Evaluating Qualitative Information Quantitatively," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 34(1), pages 114-136, February.
    2. Fildes, Robert & Stekler, Herman, 2002. "The state of macroeconomic forecasting," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 435-468, December.
    3. Hamilton, James D, 1992. "Was the Deflation during the Great Depression Anticipated? Evidence from the Commodity Futures Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 157-178, March.
    4. Kathryn Lundquist & Herman O Stekler, 2012. "Interpreting the Performance of Business Economists During the Great Recession," Business Economics, Palgrave Macmillan;National Association for Business Economics, vol. 47(2), pages 148-154, April.
    5. Cecchetti, Stephen G, 1992. "Prices during the Great Depression: Was the Deflation of 1930-1932 Really Unanticipated?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 141-156, March.
    6. Klug, Adam & Landon-Lane, John S. & White, Eugene N., 2005. "How could everyone have been so wrong? Forecasting the Great Depression with the railroads," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 27-55, January.
    7. Robert Goldfarb & H. O. Stekler & Joel David, 2005. "Methodological issues in forecasting: Insights from the egregious business forecast errors of late 1930," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(4), pages 517-542.
    8. Binder, Carola Conces, 2016. "Estimation of historical inflation expectations," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 1-31.
    9. 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.
    10. Jalil, Andrew & Rua, Gisela, 2015. "Inflation Expectations and Recovery from the Depression in 1933: Evidence from the Narrative Record," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2015-29, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    11. Daniel Ellsberg, 1961. "Risk, Ambiguity, and the Savage Axioms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 643-669.
    12. Martha A. Starr, 2014. "Qualitative And Mixed-Methods Research In Economics: Surprising Growth, Promising Future," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(2), pages 238-264, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Ulrich Fritsche & Johannes Puckelwald, 2018. "Deciphering Professional Forecasters’ Stories - Analyzing a Corpus of Textual Predictions for the German Economy," Macroeconomics and Finance Series 201804, University of Hamburg, Department of Socioeconomics.
    2. Gabriel Mathy & Herman O. Stekler, 2017. "Was the Deflation of the Depression Anticipated? An Inference Using Real-time Data," Working Papers 2017-004, The George Washington University, Department of Economics, Research Program on Forecasting.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Great Depression; Qualitative Forecasts; Business Expectations;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:gwc:wpaper:2016-011. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Tara M. Sinclair). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/degwuus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.