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Forecasting the Depression: Harvard Versus Yale

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  • Ray C. Fair
  • Matthew D. Shapiro
  • Kathryn M. Dominguez

Abstract

Was the Depression forecastable? After the Crash, how long did it take contemporary economic forecasters to realize how severe the downturn was going to be? How long should it Have taken them to come to this realization? These questions are addressed by studying the predictions of the Harvard Economic Service and Yale's Irving Fisher during 1929 and the early 1930's. The data assembled by the Harvard and Yale forecasters are subjected to modern statistical analysis to learn whether their verbal pronouncements were consistent with the data. We find that both the Harvard and Yale forecasters were systematically too optimistic, yet nothing in the data suggests that the optimism was unwarranted.

Suggested Citation

  • Ray C. Fair & Matthew D. Shapiro & Kathryn M. Dominguez, 1986. "Forecasting the Depression: Harvard Versus Yale," NBER Working Papers 2095, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2095
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    1. Nelson, Charles R & Kang, Heejoon, 1981. "Spurious Periodicity in Inappropriately Detrended Time Series," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(3), pages 741-751, May.
    2. Gregory Mankiw, N. & Shapiro, Matthew D., 1985. "Trends, random walks, and tests of the permanent income hypothesis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 165-174, September.
    3. Mankiw, N Gregory & Miron, Jeffrey A & Weil, David N, 1987. "The Adjustment of Expectations to a Change in Regime: A Study of the Founding of the Federal Reserve," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 358-374, June.
    4. Romer, Christina D, 1986. "Is the Stabilization of the Postwar Economy a Figment of the Data?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 314-334, June.
    5. Hamilton, James D., 1987. "Monetary factors in the great depression," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 145-169, March.
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