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Using forecasts to uncover the loss function of FOMC members

  • Christian Pierdzioch

    ()

    (University of Hamburg)

  • Jan-Christoph Rülke

    ()

    (University of Vallendar)

  • Peter Tillmann

    ()

    (University of Giessen)

We revisit the sources of the bias in Federal Reserve forecasts and assess whether a precautionary motive can explain the forecast bias. In contrast to the existing literature, we use forecasts submitted by individual FOMC members to uncover members' implicit loss function. Our key finding is that the loss function of FOMC members is asymmetric: FOMC members incur a higher loss when they underpredict (overpredict) inflation and unemployment (real GDP) as compared to an overprediction (underprediction) of similar size. Our findings add to the recent controversy on the relative quality of FOMC forecasts compared to staff forecasts. Together with Capistran's (2008) finding of similar asymmetries in Federal Reserve staff forecasts our results suggest that differences in predictive ability do not stem from differences in preferences. This is underlined by our second result: forecasts remain biased even after accepting an asymmetric loss function.

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File URL: https://www.uni-marburg.de/fb02/makro/forschung/magkspapers/02-2013_tillmann.pdf
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Paper provided by Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung) in its series MAGKS Papers on Economics with number 201302.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Publication status: Forthcoming in
Handle: RePEc:mar:magkse:201302
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  1. Capistrán, Carlos, 2008. "Bias in Federal Reserve inflation forecasts: Is the Federal Reserve irrational or just cautious?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(8), pages 1415-1427, November.
  2. Pierdzioch, Christian & Rülke, Jan-Christoph & Stadtmann, Georg, 2012. "On the loss function of the Bank of Canada: A note," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(2), pages 155-159.
  3. Alessandro Riboni & Francisco Ruge-Murcia, 2007. "Preference heterogeneity in monetary policy committees," DNB Working Papers 157, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  4. Jan-Christoph Rülke & Peter Tillmann, 2010. "Do FOMC Members Herd?," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201032, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
  5. Timothy Besley & Neil Meads & Paolo Surico, 2008. "Insiders versus Outsiders in Monetary Policymaking," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 218-23, May.
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  8. Wieland, Volker & Wolters, Maik, 2013. "Forecasting and Policy Making," Handbook of Economic Forecasting, Elsevier.
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  17. Ellison, Martin & Sargent, Thomas J, 2009. "A defence of the FOMC," CEPR Discussion Papers 7510, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  18. David H. Romer, 2009. "A New Data Set on Monetary Policy: The Economic Forecasts of Individual Members of the FOMC," NBER Working Papers 15208, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Ellen E. Meade & Daniel L. Thornton, 2010. "The Phillips Curve and US Monetary Policy: What the FOMC Transcripts Tell Us," Working Papers 2010-18, American University, Department of Economics.
  20. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
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  22. Petra Gerlach-Kristen, 2008. "The Role of the Chairman in Setting Monetary Policy: Individualistic vs. Autocratically Collegial MPCs," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 4(3), pages 119-143, September.
  23. Surico, Paolo, 2007. "The Fed's monetary policy rule and U.S. inflation: The case of asymmetric preferences," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 305-324, January.
  24. David Laster & Paul Bennett & In Sun Geoum, 1999. "Rational Bias in Macroeconomic Forecasts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 293-318.
  25. Michael T. Kiley, 2003. "Why Is Inflation Low When Productivity Growth Is High?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 41(3), pages 392-406, July.
  26. Henry W. Chappell, Jr. & Rob Roy McGregor & Todd A. Vermilyea, 2005. "Committee Decisions on Monetary Policy: Evidence from Historical Records of the Federal Open Market Committee," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262033305, December.
  27. Belden, Susan, 1989. "Policy Preferences of FOMC Members as Revealed by Dissenting Votes," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 21(4), pages 432-41, November.
  28. Peter Tillmann, 2009. "The Fed’s perceived Phillips curve: Evidence from individual FOMC forecasts," MAGKS Papers on Economics 200946, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
  29. Petra Gerlach-Kristen, 2009. "Outsiders at the Bank of England's MPC," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 41(6), pages 1099-1115, 09.
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