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

Author

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  • 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 This optimism was based on the use of analogies and rules of thumb which were no longer applicable.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, H. O. Stekler Research Program on Forecasting.
  • Handle: RePEc:gwc:wpaper:2016-011
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Glocker, Christian & Kaniovski, Serguei, 2020. "Structural modeling and forecasting using a cluster of dynamic factor models," MPRA Paper 101874, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. J. Daniel Aromí, 2018. "GDP growth forecasts and information flows: Is there evidence of overreactions?," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(2), pages 122-139, June.
    3. Gabriel Mathy & Christian Roatta, 2018. "Forecasting the 1937-1938 Recession: Quantifying Contemporary Newspaper Forecasts," Working Papers 2018-004, The George Washington University, Department of Economics, H. O. Stekler Research Program on Forecasting.
    4. 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.
    5. Gabriel Mathy & Herman Stekler, 2018. "Was the deflation of the depression anticipated? An inference using real-time data," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(2), pages 117-125, April.
    6. Tara M. Sinclair, 2019. "Continuities and Discontinuities in Economic Forecasting," Working Papers 2019-003, The George Washington University, Department of Economics, H. O. Stekler Research Program on Forecasting.

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    Keywords

    Great Depression; Qualitative Forecasts; Business Expectations;

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