Forecasting Using Targeted Diffusion Indexes
The simplicity of the standard diffusion index model of Stock and Watson has certainly contributed to its success among practitioners resulting in a growing body of literature on factor-augmented forecasts. However, as pointed out by Bai and Ng, the ranked factors considered in the forecasting equation depend neither on the variable to be forecasted nor on the forecasting horizon. We propose a refinement of the standard approach that retains the computational simplicity while coping with this limitation. Our approach consists of generating a weighted average of all the principal components, the weights depending both on the eigenvalues of the sample correlation matrix and on the covariance between the estimated factor and the targeted variable at the relevant horizon. This "targeted diffusion index" approach is applied to US data and the results show that it outperforms considerably the standard approach in forecasting several major macroeconomic series. Moreover, the improvement is more significant in the final part of the forecasting evaluation period.
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12324, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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201, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
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