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Learning, Forecasting and Structural Breaks

  • John M. Maheu
  • Stephen Gordon

The literature on structural breaks focuses on ex post identification of break points that may have occurred in the past. While this question is important, a more challenging problem facing econometricians is to provide forecasts when the data generating process is unstable. The purpose of this paper is to provide a general methodology for forecasting in the presence of model instability. We make no assumptions on the number of break points or the law of motion governing parameter changes. Our approach makes use of Bayesian methods of model comparison and learning in order to provide an optimal predictive density from which forecasts can be derived. Estimates for the posterior probability that a break occurred at a particular point in the sample are generated as a byproduct of our procedure. We discuss the importance of using priors that accurately reflect the econometrician's opinions as to what constitutes a plausible forecast. Several applications to macroeconomic time-series data demonstrate the usefulness of our procedure.

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Paper provided by CIRPEE in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 0422.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:0422
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  5. Dufour, J.M. & Ghysels, E. & Hall, A., 1992. "Generalized Predictive Tests and Structural Change Analysis in Econometrics," Cahiers de recherche 9223, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  6. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1994. "Evidence on structural instability in macroeconomic times series relations," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 94-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  7. Ghysels, Eric & Guay, Alain & Hall, Alastair, 1998. "Predictive tests for structural change with unknown breakpoint," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 209-233, February.
  8. Gary Koop & Simon M. Potter, 1999. "Are apparent findings of nonlinearity due to structural instability in economic time series?," Staff Reports 59, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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  17. Chib, Siddhartha, 2001. "Markov chain Monte Carlo methods: computation and inference," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 57, pages 3569-3649 Elsevier.
  18. 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.
  19. John F. Geweke, 1994. "Bayesian comparison of econometric models," Working Papers 532, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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  21. Giordani, Paolo & Kohn, Robert, 2008. "Efficient Bayesian Inference for Multiple Change-Point and Mixture Innovation Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 26, pages 66-77, January.
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  23. Giorgio E. Primiceri, 2005. "Time Varying Structural Vector Autoregressions and Monetary Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(3), pages 821-852.
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