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Business Survey Data: Do They Help in Forecasting the Macro Economy?

  • Hansson, Jesper

    (National Institute of Economic Research)

  • Jansson, Per

    ()

    (Monetary Policy Department, Central Bank of Sweden)

  • Löf, Mårten

    ()

    (National Institute of Economic Research)

In this paper we examine whether data from business tendency surveys are useful for forecasting the macro economy in the short run. Our analyses primarily concern the growth rates of real GDP but we also evaluate forecasts of other variables such as unemployment, price and wage inflation, interest rates, and exchange-rate changes. The starting point is a so-called dynamic factor model (DFM), which is used both as a framework for dimension reduction in forecasting and as a procedure for filtering out unimportant idiosyncratic noise in the underlying survey data. In this way, it is possible to model a rather large number of noise-reduced survey variables in a parsimoniously parameterised vector autoregression (VAR). To assess the forecasting performance of the procedure, comparisons are made with VARs that either use the survey variables directly, are based on macro variables only, or use other popular summary indices of economic activity. As concerns forecasts of GDP growth, the procedure turns out to outperform the competing alternatives in most cases. For the other macro variables, the evidence is more mixed, suggesting in particular that there often is little difference between the DFM-based indicators and the popular summary indices of economic activity.

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Paper provided by Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden) in its series Working Paper Series with number 151.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: 01 Sep 2003
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in International Journal of Forecasting, 2005, pages 377-389.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:rbnkwp:0151
Contact details of provider: Postal: Sveriges Riksbank, SE-103 37 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: 08 - 787 00 00
Fax: 08-21 05 31
Web page: http://www.riksbank.com/
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  1. Mario Forni & Marc Hallin & Marco Lippi & Lucrezia Reichlin, 2000. "The Generalized Dynamic-Factor Model: Identification And Estimation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(4), pages 540-554, November.
  2. Oller, Lars-Erik & Tallbom, Christer, 1996. "Smooth and timely business cycle indicators for noisy Swedish data," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 389-402, September.
  3. Forni, Mario & Hallin, Marc & Lippi, Marco & Reichlin, Lucrezia, 2002. "Do Financial Variables Help Forecasting Inflation and Real Activity in the Euro Area?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3146, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Mark W. Watson & James H. Stock, 2004. "Combination forecasts of output growth in a seven-country data set," Journal of Forecasting, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(6), pages 405-430.
  5. Stock, James H & Watson, Mark W, 2002. "Macroeconomic Forecasting Using Diffusion Indexes," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(2), pages 147-62, April.
  6. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1988. "A Probability Model of The Coincident Economic Indicators," NBER Working Papers 2772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1999. "Forecasting Inflation," NBER Working Papers 7023, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Todd E. Clark & Michael McCracken, 1999. "Tests of Equal Forecast Accuracy and Encompassing for Nested Models," Computing in Economics and Finance 1999 1241, Society for Computational Economics.
  9. Bruno, Giancarlo & Malgarini, Marco, 2002. "An Indicator of Economic Sentiment for the Italian Economy," MPRA Paper 42331, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  10. n/a, 2002. "Credibility of the Russian Stabilisation Programme in 1995-98," NIESR Discussion Papers 149, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
  11. G. Goldrian & J.D. Lindbauer & G. Nerb & B. Ulrich, 2001. "Evaluation and development of confidence indicators based on harmonised business and consumer surveys (Study contracted to IFO, Munich)," European Economy - Economic Papers 151, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
  12. Stock, J.H. & Watson, M.W., 1989. "New Indexes Of Coincident And Leading Economic Indicators," Papers 178d, Harvard - J.F. Kennedy School of Government.
  13. Lindström, Tomas, 2000. "Qualitative Survey Responses and Production over the Business Cycle," Working Paper Series 116, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
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