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Comparing the Point Predictions and Subjective Probability Distributions of Professional Forecasters

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  • Joseph Engelberg
  • Charles F. Manski
  • Jared Williams

Abstract

We use data from the Survey of Professional Forecasters to compare point forecasts of GDP growth and inflation with the subjective probability distributions held by forecasters. We find that SPF forecasters summarize their underlying distributions in different ways and that their summaries tend to be favorable relative to the central tendency of the underlying distributions. We also find that those forecasters who report favorable point estimates in the current survey tend to do so in subsequent surveys. These findings, plus the inescapable fact that point forecasts reveal nothing about the uncertainty that forecasters feel, suggest that the SPF and similar surveys should not ask for point forecasts. It seems more reasonable to elicit probabilistic expectations and derive measures of central tendency and uncertainty, as we do here.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph Engelberg & Charles F. Manski & Jared Williams, 2006. "Comparing the Point Predictions and Subjective Probability Distributions of Professional Forecasters," NBER Working Papers 11978, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11978
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C42 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Survey Methods
    • E27 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
    • E47 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications

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