Differences in Early GDP Component Estimates Between Recession and Expansion
In this paper we examine the quality of the initial estimates of the components of both real and nominal U.S. GDP. We introduce a number of new statistics for measuring the magnitude of changes in the components from the initial estimates available one month after the end of the quarter to the estimates available 3 months after the end of the quarter. We further specifically investigate the potential role of changes in the state of the economy for these changes. Our analysis shows that the early data generally reflected the composition of the changes in GDP that was observed in the later data. Thus, under most circumstances, an analyst could use the early data to obtain a realistic picture of what had happened in the economy in the previous quarter. However, the differences in the composition of the vectors of the two vintages were larger during recessions than in expansions. Unfortunately, it is in those periods when accurate information is most vital for forecasting.
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