Has Macro-Forecasting Failed?
The answer to this question depends on the treatment of logically and empirically prior questions about (1) what the forecasts are and why they are needed, and (2) what can reasonably be expected of them. Further, what forecasters can and should do cannot be established without studying the record and assessing the probable future of their endeavors. Accordingly, the basic approach taken in this paper is to ask of the assembled data what professional standards have economists engaged in macro-forecasting been able to attain and maintain in competing with each other and alternative methods. There is much disenchantment with economic forecasting. The difficult question is how much of it is due to unacceptably poor performance and how much to unrealistically high prior expectations. My argument is that the latter is a major factor. In times of continuing expansion with restrained inflation, as in the 1960s, macro-forecasts looked good and economists were held in high repute. Later when inflation accelerated, serious recessions reappeared, and long-term growth of productivity and total output slackened, the errors of macroeconomic models and forecasts, and the old and new controversies among the economists, received increased public attention. The reputation of the profession suffered, and the interest of academic economists in forecasting, never very strong, weakened still more. Yet the performance of professional economic forecasters, when assessed proper relative terms, has been considerably better in recent times than in the earlier post-World War II period. What happened is that the improvements fell short of enabling the forecasters to cope with the new problems they faced.
|Date of creation:||Oct 1991|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Fair, Ray C & Shiller, Robert J, 1990. "Comparing Information in Forecasts from Econometric Models," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 375-89, June.
- Lupoletti, William M & Webb, Roy H, 1986. "Defining and Improving the Accuracy of Macroeconomic Forecasts: Contributions from a VAR Model," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(2), pages 263-85, April.
- Victor Zarnowitz, 1972. "Forecasting Economic Conditions: The Record and the Prospect," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Research: Retrospect and Prospect, Volume 1, The Business Cycle Today, pages 183-239 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Sims, Christopher A, 1980. "Macroeconomics and Reality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-48, January.
- Alan S. Blinder, 1984.
"Can The Production Smoothing Model of Inventory Behavior be Saved?,"
NBER Working Papers
1257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Alan S. Blinder, 1986. "Can the Production Smoothing Model of Inventory Behavior be Saved?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(3), pages 431-453.
- Zarnowitz, Victor, 1985. "Rational Expectations and Macroeconomic Forecasts," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(4), pages 293-311, October.
- Stephen K. McNees, 1988. "How accurate are macroeconomic forecasts?," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Jul, pages 15-36.
- Wallis, Kenneth F, 1989. "Macroeconomic Forecasting: A Survey," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(394), pages 28-61, March.
- Holden, K. & Broomhead, A., 1990. "An examination of vector autoregressive forecasts for the U.K. economy," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 11-23.
- Robert B. Litterman, 1985.
"Forecasting with Bayesian vector autoregressions five years of experience,"
274, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
- Litterman, Robert B, 1986. "Forecasting with Bayesian Vector Autoregressions-Five Years of Experience," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 4(1), pages 25-38, January.
- Stephen K. McNees, 1990. "Man vs. model? The role of judgment in forecasting," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Jul, pages 41-52.
- Bathcelor, Roy & Dua, Pami, 1990. "Forecaster ideology, forecasting technique, and the accuracy of economic forecasts," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 3-10.
- Zarnowitz, Victor & Moore, Geoffrey H, 1982. "Sequential Signals of Recession and Recovery," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(1), pages 57-85, January.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3867. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.