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Transportation Data as a Tool for Nowcasting Economic Activity – The German Road Pricing System as an Example

  • Roland Döhrn


There is a broad agreement that transportation activity is closely linked to the business cycle. Nevertheless, data from the transportation sector have not been part of the tool kit of business cycle analysts due to long publications lags. With the disseminations of electronic road pricing systems, up to date figures on transportation activity are available for an increasing number of countries. This paper analyses the performance of the German toll statistics for nowcasting industry production. It confirms that between January 2007, when the toll data were published first, and July 2012 the seasonally adjusted toll data show a closer correlation with industry production than business surveys like the ifo business climate or the PMI. Compared to this the forecasting power out of sample is disappointing. Though showing somewhat smaller forecast errors than the alternative models tested the advantage of the toll based models is not statistically significant as a rule. Given the small publication lead against industry production and the publication lag against business sentiment indicators one should not be over-enthusiastic on the opportunities of the toll data as a nowcasting tool, though they surely mean an addition to the business cycle analysts’ tool box.

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Paper provided by Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen in its series Ruhr Economic Papers with number 0395.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2013
Handle: RePEc:rwi:repape:0395
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  1. Don Harding & Adrian Pagan, 2000. "Disecting the Cycle: A Methodological Investigation," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1164, Econometric Society.
  2. Askitas, Nikos & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2011. "Nowcasting Business Cycles Using Toll Data," IZA Discussion Papers 5522, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Harvey, David & Leybourne, Stephen & Newbold, Paul, 1997. "Testing the equality of prediction mean squared errors," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 281-291, June.
  4. Gerhard Fenz & Martin Schneider, 2009. "A Leading Indicator of Austrian Exports Based on Truck Mileage," Monetary Policy & the Economy, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue 1, pages 44–52.
  5. Askitas, Nikos & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2011. "The Toll Index: Innovation-based Economic Telemetry," IZA Policy Papers 31, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Harding, Don & Pagan, Adrian, 2006. "Synchronization of cycles," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 132(1), pages 59-79, May.
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