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Forecasting and Conditional Projection Using Realistic Prior Distributions

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  • Thomas Doan
  • Robert B. Litterman
  • Christopher A. Sims

Abstract

This paper develops a forecasting procedure based on a Bayesian method for estimating vector autoregressions. The procedure is applied to ten macroeconomic variables and is shown to improve out-of-sample forecasts relative to univariate equations. Although cross-variables responses are damped by the prior, considerable interaction among the variables is shown to be captured by the estimates.We provide unconditional forecasts as of 1982:12 and 1983:3.We also describe how a model such as this can be used to make conditional projections and to analyze policy alternatives. As an example, we analyze a Congressional Budget Office forecast made in 1982:12.While no automatic causal interpretations arise from models like ours, they provide a detailed characterization of the dynamic statistical interdependence of a set of economic variables, which may help inevaluating causal hypotheses, without containing any such hypotheses themselves.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Doan & Robert B. Litterman & Christopher A. Sims, 1983. "Forecasting and Conditional Projection Using Realistic Prior Distributions," NBER Working Papers 1202, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1202
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    1. John Geweke, 1978. "The Temporal and Sectoral Aggregation of Seasonally Adjusted Time Series," NBER Chapters, in: Seasonal Analysis of Economic Time Series, pages 411-432, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    3. Robert B. Litterman, 1979. "Techniques of forecasting using vector autoregressions," Working Papers 115, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    4. Sims, Christopher A, 1980. "Macroeconomics and Reality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-48, January.
    5. Leamer, Edward E, 1972. "A Class of Informative Priors and Distributed Lag Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 40(6), pages 1059-1081, November.
    6. Sims, Christopher A, 1983. "Is There a Monetary Business Cycle?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(2), pages 228-233, May.
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    9. Christopher A. Sims, 1982. "Policy Analysis with Econometric Models," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 13(1), pages 107-164.
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