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Why Has U.S. Inflation Become Harder to Forecast?

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  • James H. Stock
  • Mark W. Watson

Abstract

Forecasts of the rate of price inflation play a central role in the formulation of monetary policy, and forecasting inflation is a key job for economists at the Federal Reserve Board. This paper examines whether this job has become harder and, to the extent that it has, what changes in the inflation process have made it so. The main finding is that the univariate inflation process is well described by an unobserved component trend-cycle model with stochastic volatility or, equivalently, an integrated moving average process with time-varying parameters; this model explains a variety of recent univariate inflation forecasting puzzles. It appears currently to be difficult for multivariate forecasts to improve on forecasts made using this time-varying univariate model.

Suggested Citation

  • James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2006. "Why Has U.S. Inflation Become Harder to Forecast?," NBER Working Papers 12324, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12324
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • E37 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications

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