IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/hig/wpaper/135-ec-2016.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Wishful Bias in Predicting Us Recessions: Indirect Evidence

Author

Listed:
  • Sergey V. Smirnov

    () (National Research University Higher School of Economics)

  • Daria A. Avdeeva

    () (National Research University Higher School of Economics)

Abstract

There is evidence in the economic literature that professional forecasters are unsuccessful in predicting recessions, but the reasons for these failures are still not clear. Meanwhile, this phenomenon has been little studied on the basis of quarterly estimates for various target horizons. We analysed quarterly consensus forecasts of real GDP growth rates and probabilities of recession taken from the Survey of Professional Forecasters (SPF) conducted by PhilFed and established several stylized facts including: “alarm signals” usually appear only after cyclical peaks; consensus forecasts of recessions for distant target horizons (more than two quarters) have never met except several quarters after the second oil shock; as a rule, pre-recession probabilities of recessions are much less than 50%; the expected durations of recession are less than actual ones; the Mincer-Zarnowitz test with a dummy for recessions reveals that SPF give biased forecasts of real GDP growth rates for almost all target horizons; experts regularly overestimate growth rates during recessions; adding a dummy for recessions significantly increases adjusted R2s; consensus forecasts clearly signal a recession only after a black swan; the majority of experts avoid predicting declines in real GDP before a recession; depth of contraction is even more underestimated for quarters after black swans. None of these stylized facts proves the unwillingness of professional forecasters to predict recessions (especially prolonged ones) in a direct way. However, in our view, together they constitute indirect evidence for the existence of a wishful bias against predicting recessions. If this bias exists, customers of SPF forecasts should take this into account in their decision-making processes.

Suggested Citation

  • Sergey V. Smirnov & Daria A. Avdeeva, 2016. "Wishful Bias in Predicting Us Recessions: Indirect Evidence," HSE Working papers WP BRP 135/EC/2016, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hig:wpaper:135/ec/2016
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.hse.ru/data/2016/05/19/1131870471/135EC2016.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Fair, Ray C & Shiller, Robert J, 1989. "The Informational Context of Ex Ante Forecasts," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(2), pages 325-331, May.
    2. Dovern, Jonas & Weisser, Johannes, 2011. "Accuracy, unbiasedness and efficiency of professional macroeconomic forecasts: An empirical comparison for the G7," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 452-465.
    3. Herman O Stekler & Raj M Talwar, 2013. "Forecasting the Downturn of the Great Recession," Business Economics, Palgrave Macmillan;National Association for Business Economics, vol. 48(2), pages 113-120, April.
    4. Engelberg, Joseph & Manski, Charles F. & Williams, Jared, 2009. "Comparing the Point Predictions and Subjective Probability Distributions of Professional Forecasters," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 27, pages 30-41.
    5. Jeremy J. Nalewaik, 2010. "The Income- and Expenditure-Side Estimates of U.S. Output Growth," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 41(1 (Spring), pages 71-127.
    6. Tara M. Sinclair & H. O. Stekler & Warren Carnow, 2012. "A new approach for evaluating economic forecasts," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 32(3), pages 2332-2342.
    7. Wieland, Volker & Wolters, Maik, 2013. "Forecasting and Policy Making," Handbook of Economic Forecasting, in: G. Elliott & C. Granger & A. Timmermann (ed.), Handbook of Economic Forecasting, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 239-325, Elsevier.
    8. El-Shagi, Makram & Giesen, Sebastian & Jung, Alexander, 2016. "Revisiting the relative forecast performances of Fed staff and private forecasters: A dynamic approach," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 313-323.
    9. Fintzen, David & Stekler, H. O., 1999. "Why did forecasters fail to predict the 1990 recession?," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 309-323, July.
    10. Fildes, Robert & Stekler, Herman, 2002. "The state of macroeconomic forecasting," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 435-468, December.
    11. Batchelor, Roy, 2007. "Bias in macroeconomic forecasts," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 189-203.
    12. Stekler, H O, 1972. "An Analysis of Turning Point Forecasts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 724-729, September.
    13. 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.
    14. Clements, Michael P., 2008. "Consensus and uncertainty: Using forecast probabilities of output declines," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 76-86.
    15. Ager, P. & Kappler, M. & Osterloh, S., 2009. "The accuracy and efficiency of the Consensus Forecasts: A further application and extension of the pooled approach," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 167-181.
    16. Jacob A. Mincer, 1969. "Economic Forecasts and Expectations: Analysis of Forecasting Behavior and Performance," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc69-1.
    17. Masahiro Ashiya, 2009. "Strategic bias and professional affiliations of macroeconomic forecasters," Journal of Forecasting, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(2), pages 120-130.
    18. Mark W. Watson & James H. Stock, 2003. "How did leading indicator forecasts perform during the 2001 recession?," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue sum, pages 71-90.
    19. Evan F. Koenig & Kenneth M. Emery, 1994. "Why The Composite Index Of Leading Indicators Does Not Lead," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 12(1), pages 52-66, January.
    20. Roy Batchelor, 2007. "Forecaster Behaviour and Bias in Macroeconomic Forecasts," ifo Working Paper Series 39, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    21. Stephen K. McNees, 1992. "The 1990-91 recession in historical perspective," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue jan, pages 3-22.
    22. Chua, Chew Lian & Tsiaplias, Sarantis, 2011. "Predicting economic contractions and expansions with the aid of professional forecasts," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 438-451.
    23. Messina, Jeffrey D. & Sinclair, Tara M. & Stekler, Herman, 2015. "What can we learn from revisions to the Greenbook forecasts?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 54-62.
    24. Loungani, Prakash, 2001. "How accurate are private sector forecasts? Cross-country evidence from consensus forecasts of output growth," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 419-432.
    25. Stephen K. McNees, 1987. "Forecasting cyclical turning points: the record in the past three recessions," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue mar, pages 31-40.
    26. Kajal Lahiri & J. George Wang, 2007. "The value of probability forecasts as predictors of cyclical downturns," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(1), pages 11-14.
    27. Lahiri, Kajal & Wang, J. George, 2013. "Evaluating probability forecasts for GDP declines using alternative methodologies," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 175-190.
    28. Rudebusch, Glenn D. & Williams, John C., 2009. "Forecasting Recessions: The Puzzle of the Enduring Power of the Yield Curve," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 27(4), pages 492-503.
    29. Kajal Lahiri & J George Wang, 2006. "Subjective Probability Forecasts for Recessions," Business Economics, Palgrave Macmillan;National Association for Business Economics, vol. 41(2), pages 26-37, April.
    30. Zarnowitz, Victor, 1985. "Rational Expectations and Macroeconomic Forecasts," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(4), pages 293-311, October.
    31. Dovern, Jonas & Jannsen, Nils, 2017. "Systematic errors in growth expectations over the business cycle," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 760-769.
    32. Saul H. Hymans, 1973. "On the Use of Leading Indicators to Predict Cyclical Turning Points," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 4(2), pages 339-384.
    33. Scott Schuh, 2001. "An evaluation of recent macroeconomic forecast errors," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, pages 35-56.
    34. Jacques Anas & Laurent Ferrara, 2004. "Detecting Cyclical Turning Points: The ABCD Approach and Two Probabilistic Indicators," Journal of Business Cycle Measurement and Analysis, OECD Publishing, Centre for International Research on Economic Tendency Surveys, vol. 2004(2), pages 193-225.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Recession; Forecasting; Wishful Bias; the Survey of Professional Forecasters.;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E37 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications

    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:hig:wpaper:135/ec/2016. 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: (Shamil Abdulaev) or (Shamil Abdulaev). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/hsecoru.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.