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Why You Should Never Use the Hodrick-Prescott Filter

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  • James D. Hamilton

Abstract

Here's why. (1) The HP filter produces series with spurious dynamic relations that have no basis in the underlying data-generating process. (2) Filtered values at the end of the sample are very different from those in the middle, and are also characterized by spurious dynamics. (3) A statistical formalization of the problem typically produces values for the smoothing parameter vastly at odds with common practice, e.g., a value for λ far below 1600 for quarterly data. (4) There's a better alternative. A regression of the variable at date t+h on the four most recent values as of date t offers a robust approach to detrending that achieves all the objectives sought by users of the HP filter with none of its drawbacks.

Suggested Citation

  • James D. Hamilton, 2017. "Why You Should Never Use the Hodrick-Prescott Filter," NBER Working Papers 23429, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23429
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sargent, Thomas J, 1976. "A Classical Macroeconometric Model for the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(2), pages 207-237, April.
    2. Tucker McElroy, 2008. "Exact formulas for the Hodrick-Prescott filter," Econometrics Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 11(1), pages 209-217, March.
    3. Mehmet Balcilar & Rangan Gupta & Anandamayee Majumdar & Stephen M. Miller, 2015. "Was the recent downturn in US real GDP predictable?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(28), pages 2985-3007, June.
    4. Cheung, Yin-Wong & Chinn, Menzie D. & Pascual, Antonio Garcia, 2005. "Empirical exchange rate models of the nineties: Are any fit to survive?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(7), pages 1150-1175, November.
    5. Meese, Richard A. & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1983. "Empirical exchange rate models of the seventies : Do they fit out of sample?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1-2), pages 3-24, February.
    6. Beveridge, Stephen & Nelson, Charles R., 1981. "A new approach to decomposition of economic time series into permanent and transitory components with particular attention to measurement of the `business cycle'," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 151-174.
    7. James D. Hamilton & Ethan S. Harris & Jan Hatzius & Kenneth D. West, 2016. "The Equilibrium Real Funds Rate: Past, Present, and Future," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 64(4), pages 660-707, November.
    8. King, Robert G. & Rebelo, Sergio T., 1993. "Low frequency filtering and real business cycles," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 207-231.
    9. Peter C. B. Phillips & Sainan Jin, 2015. "Business Cycles, Trend Elimination, and the HP Filter," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2005, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C22 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E47 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications

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