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Bias in Federal Reserve Inflation Forecasts: Is the Federal Reserve Irrational or Just Cautious?

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  • Carlos Capistrán-Carmona

Abstract

This paper documents that inflation forecasts of the Federal Reserve systematically under-predicted inflation before Volker's appointment as Chairman and systematically over-predicted it afterward. It also documents that, under quadratic loss, commercial forecasts have information not contained in the forecasts of the Federal Reserve. It demonstrates that this evidence leads to a rejection of the joint hypothesis that the Federal Reserve has rational expectations and quadratic loss. To investigate the causes of this failure, this paper uses moment conditions derived from a model of an inflation targeting central bank to back out the loss function implied by the forecasts of the Federal Reserve. It finds that the cost of having inflation above the target was larger than the cost of having inflation below it for the post-Volker Federal Reserve, and that the opposite was true for the pre-Volker era. Once these asymmetries are taken into account, the Federal Reserve is found to be rational and to efficiently incorporate the information contained in forecasts from the Survey of Professional Forecasters

Suggested Citation

  • Carlos Capistrán-Carmona, 2005. "Bias in Federal Reserve Inflation Forecasts: Is the Federal Reserve Irrational or Just Cautious?," Computing in Economics and Finance 2005 127, Society for Computational Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sce:scecf5:127
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    Cited by:

    1. Capistrán, Carlos & López-Moctezuma, Gabriel, 2014. "Forecast revisions of Mexican inflation and GDP growth," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 177-191.
    2. Sinclair, Tara M. & Gamber, Edward N. & Stekler, Herman & Reid, Elizabeth, 2012. "Jointly evaluating the Federal Reserve’s forecasts of GDP growth and inflation," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 309-314.
    3. repec:fce:doctra:13-03 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Capistrán, Carlos, 2008. "Bias in Federal Reserve inflation forecasts: Is the Federal Reserve irrational or just cautious?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(8), pages 1415-1427, November.
    5. Christian Pierdzioch & Jan-Christoph Rülke & Peter Tillmann, 2013. "Using forecasts to uncover the loss function of FOMC members," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201302, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    6. Pierdzioch, Christian & Rülke, Jan-Christoph & Stadtmann, Georg, 2015. "Central banks’ inflation forecasts under asymmetric loss: Evidence from four Latin-American countries," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 66-70.
    7. Sinclair, Tara M. & Joutz, Fred & Stekler, H.O., 2010. "Can the Fed predict the state of the economy?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 28-32, July.
    8. Paul Hubert, 2015. "The Influence and Policy Signalling Role of FOMC Forecasts," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 77(5), pages 655-680, October.
    9. Carlos Capistrán & Allan Timmermann, 2009. "Disagreement and Biases in Inflation Expectations," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 41(2-3), pages 365-396, March.
    10. Tillmann, Peter, 2010. "The Fed's perceived Phillips curve: Evidence from individual FOMC forecasts," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 1008-1013, December.
    11. Martin Ellison & Thomas J. Sargent, 2012. "A Defense Of The Fomc," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 53(4), pages 1047-1065, November.
    12. Anatolyev, Stanislav, 2009. "Dynamic modeling under linear-exponential loss," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 82-89, January.
    13. Graham Elliott & Allan Timmermann, 2016. "Economic Forecasting," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 10740.
    14. Krol, Robert, 2013. "Evaluating state revenue forecasting under a flexible loss function," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 282-289.
    15. Henning Fischer & Marta García-Bárzana & Peter Tillmann & Peter Winker, 2014. "Evaluating FOMC forecast ranges: an interval data approach," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 47(1), pages 365-388, August.
    16. Thapar, Aditi, 2008. "Using private forecasts to estimate the effects of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 806-824, May.
    17. Tillmann, Peter, 2011. "Strategic forecasting on the FOMC," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 547-553, September.
    18. Nakazono, Yoshiyuki, 2013. "Strategic behavior of Federal Open Market Committee board members: Evidence from members’ forecasts," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 62-70.
    19. Baghestani, Hamid, 2011. "Federal Reserve and private forecasts of growth in investment," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 290-305, July.
    20. Baghestani, Hamid & Khallaf, Ashraf, 2012. "Predictions of growth in U.S. corporate profits: Asymmetric vs. symmetric loss," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 222-229.
    21. Hamid Baghestani, 2014. "On the loss structure of federal reserve forecasts of output growth," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer;Academy of Economics and Finance, vol. 38(3), pages 518-527, July.
    22. Tsuchiya, Yoichi, 2016. "Assessing macroeconomic forecasts for Japan under an asymmetric loss function," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 233-242.
    23. Kim, Insu & Kim, Minsoo, 2009. "Irrational Bias in Inflation Forecasts," MPRA Paper 16447, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    24. Peter Tillmann, 2011. "Reputation and Forecast Revisions: Evidence from the FOMC," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201128, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Asymmetric loss function; Inflation forecasts; Forecast Evaluation;

    JEL classification:

    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy

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