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Foreign PMIs: A reliable indicator for exports?


  • Sandra Hanslin
  • Rolf Scheufele


Foreign economic activity is a major determinant of export development. This paper presents an indicator for now- and forecasting exports, which is based on survey data that captures foreign economic perspectives. We construct an indicator by weighting foreign PMIs of main trading partners with their respective export shares. For two very trade exposed countries (Germany and Switzerland) the paper shows that the indicator based on foreign PMIs is strongly correlated with exports (total as well as goods exports). In an out-of-sample forecast comparison we employ MIDAS models to forecast the two different definitions of exports. We document that our export indicator performs very well relative to univariate benchmarks and relative to other major leading indicators using hard and soft data.

Suggested Citation

  • Sandra Hanslin & Rolf Scheufele, 2016. "Foreign PMIs: A reliable indicator for exports?," Working Papers 2016-01, Swiss National Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:snb:snbwpa:2016-01

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lehmann, Robert, 2015. "Survey-based indicators vs. hard data: What improves export forecasts in Europe?," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112847, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Lahiri, Kajal & Monokroussos, George, 2013. "Nowcasting US GDP: The role of ISM business surveys," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 644-658.
    3. Marcellino, Massimiliano & Stock, James H. & Watson, Mark W., 2006. "A comparison of direct and iterated multistep AR methods for forecasting macroeconomic time series," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 135(1-2), pages 499-526.
    4. Nils Jannsen & Julia Richter, 2012. "Kapazitätsauslastung im Ausland als Indikator für die deutschen Investitionsgüterexporte," Wirtschaftsdienst, Springer;German National Library of Economics, vol. 92(12), pages 833-837, December.
    5. Massimiliano Marcellino & Christian Schumacher, 2010. "Factor MIDAS for Nowcasting and Forecasting with Ragged-Edge Data: A Model Comparison for German GDP," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 72(4), pages 518-550, August.
    6. repec:eee:intfor:v:33:y:2017:i:4:p:878-893 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Kaufmann, Daniel & Scheufele, Rolf, 2017. "Business tendency surveys and macroeconomic fluctuations," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 878-893.
    8. Katja Drechsel & Rolf Scheufele, 2012. "Bottom-up or Direct? Forecasting German GDP in a Data-rich Environment," Working Papers 2012-16, Swiss National Bank.
    9. Christian Grimme & Klaus Wohlrabe, 2014. "Die ifo Exporterwartungen - ein neuer Indikator zur Lage der Exportindustrie in Deutschland," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 67(23), pages 64-65, December.
    10. Steffen Elstner & Christian Grimme & Ulrich Haskamp, 2013. "Das ifo Exportklima - ein Frühindikator für die deutsche Exportprognose," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 66(04), pages 36-43, March.
    11. Cláudia Duarte & Fátima Cardoso, 2006. "The Use of Qualitative Information for Forecasting Exports," Economic Bulletin and Financial Stability Report Articles, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
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    Cited by:

    1. Robert Lehmann, 2015. "Survey-based indicators vs. hard data: What improves export forecasts in Europe?," ERSA conference papers ersa15p756, European Regional Science Association.

    More about this item


    Business tendency surveys; mixed frequencies; nowcasting; forecasting; MIDAS; exports;

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F17 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Forecasting and Simulation
    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods

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