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Forecasting with the Index of Leading Indicators


  • Beatrice N. Vaccara
  • Victor Zarnowitz


The composite index of leading indicators is found to be a valuable tool for predicting not only the direction but also the size of near- term changes in aggregate economic activity. This conclusion is based on assessments of the leading index as a predictor of (1) business cycle turning points as dated by the National Bureau of Economic Research and (2) quantitative changes in real GNP and the composite index of coincident indicators. Specific smoothing rules are identified which reduce the frequency of false signals but still provide adequate early warning of cyclical turning points. Simple regression models based on first differences in the logarithms produce a comparatively good record of forecasts one and two quarters ahead. The best results are obtained by using predictive chains whereby, e.g., quarterly changes in the lagging index (inverted) for Q[sub t] are used to forecast changes in the leading index in quarter Q which in turn are used to forecast changes in real GNP (or the coincident index) in Q[sub t+2].

Suggested Citation

  • Beatrice N. Vaccara & Victor Zarnowitz, 1978. "Forecasting with the Index of Leading Indicators," NBER Working Papers 0244, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0244

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    Cited by:

    1. Rafal Kasperowicz, 2010. "Identification Of Industrial Cycle Leading Indicators Using Causality Test," Equilibrium. Quarterly Journal of Economics and Economic Policy, Institute of Economic Research, vol. 5(2), pages 47-59, December.
    2. 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.
    3. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1993. "A Procedure for Predicting Recessions with Leading Indicators: Econometric Issues and Recent Experience," NBER Chapters,in: Business Cycles, Indicators and Forecasting, pages 95-156 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Wolfgang Nierhaus & Klaus Abberger, 2014. "Zur Prognose von konjunkturellen Wendepunkten: Dreimal-Regel versus Markov-Switching," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 67(16), pages 21-25, August.
    5. Vojtech Benda & Lubos Ruzicka, 2007. "Short-term Forecasting Methods Based on the LEI Approach: The Case of the Czech Republic," Research and Policy Notes 2007/01, Czech National Bank, Research Department.
    6. Victor Zarnowitz, 1986. "The Record and Improvability of Economic Forecasting," NBER Working Papers 2099, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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