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Discussion Paper

Monitoring Economic Conditions during a Government Shutdown


Abstract: The recent partial shutdown of the federal government has disrupted publication schedules for many U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) data releases. Most notably, the release of GDP for the fourth quarter of 2018—originally scheduled for January 30—has been postponed indefinitely. Even without the full slate of Census Bureau and BEA releases, forecasters have continued to make predictions for 2018:Q4 GDP growth; as of February 1, the New York Fed Staff Nowcast stands at 2.6 percent, the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow stands at 2.5 percent, and the Blue Chip Financial Forecasts estimate stands at 2.6 percent. How accurate are these predictions for 2018:Q4 relative to the BEA’s first estimate? Have the missing data jeopardized the accuracy of predictions for 2019:Q1? The New York Fed Staff Nowcast provides a lens through which to answer these questions, thanks to its entirely automated design and its ability to mimic judgmental forecasters’ processing of incoming data. Using real‑time historic data, we can assess the importance of missing releases by simulating similar dataflow disruptions for past quarters.

Keywords: Nowcasting; Government Shutdown; Data Releases; GDP;

JEL Classification: E2;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Part of Series: Liberty Street Economics

Publication Date: 2019-02-05

Number: 20190205