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A Probability Model of The Coincident Economic Indicators

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  • James H. Stock
  • Mark W. Watson

Abstract

The Index of Coincident Economic Indicators, currently compiled by the U.S. Department of Commerce, is designed to measure the state of overall economic activity. The index is constructed as a weighted average of four key macroeconomic time series, where the weights are obtained using rules that dare to the early days of business cycle analysis. This paper presents an explicit rime series model (formally, a dynamic factor analysis or "single index" model) that implicitly defines a variable that can be thought of as the overall state of the economy. Upon estimating this model using data from 1959-1987, the estimate of this unobserved variable is found to be highly correlated with the official Commerce Department series, particularly over business cycle horizons. Thus this model provides a formal rationalization for the traditional methodology used to develop the Coincident Index. Initial exploratory exercises indicate that traditional leading variables can prove useful in forecasting the short-run growth in this series.

Suggested Citation

  • James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1988. "A Probability Model of The Coincident Economic Indicators," NBER Working Papers 2772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2772
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    1. Diebold, Francis X & Rudebusch, Glenn D, 1989. "Scoring the Leading Indicators," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62(3), pages 369-391, July.
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    3. Hamilton, James D, 1989. "A New Approach to the Economic Analysis of Nonstationary Time Series and the Business Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 357-384, March.
    4. repec:adr:anecst:y:1987:i:6-7 is not listed on IDEAS
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    6. Kling, John L, 1987. "Predicting the Turning Points of Business and Economic Time Series," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(2), pages 201-238, April.
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    8. Auerbach, Alan J, 1982. "The Index of Leading Indicators: "Measurement without Theory," Thirty-Five Years Later," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(4), pages 589-595, November.
    9. Friedman, Benjamin M, 1988. "Monetary Policy without Quantity Variables," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 440-445, May.
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