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Author:Mertens, Elmar 

Working Paper
Trend inflation in advanced economies

We derive estimates of trend inflation for fourteen advanced economies from a framework in which trend shocks exhibit stochastic volatility. The estimated specification allows for time-variation in the degree to which longer-term inflation expectations are well anchored in each economy. Our results bring out the effect of changes in monetary regime (such as the adoption of inflation targeting in several countries) on the behavior of trend inflation. Our estimates expand on the previous literature in several dimensions: For each country, we employ a multivariate approach that pools different ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2013-74

Working Paper
Addressing COVID-19 Outliers in BVARs with Stochastic Volatility

Incoming data in 2020 posed sizable challenges for the use of VARs in economic analysis: Enormous movements in a number of series have had strong effects on parameters and forecasts constructed with standard VAR methods. We propose the use of VAR models with time-varying volatility that include a treatment of the COVID extremes as outlier observations. Typical VARs with time-varying volatility assume changes in uncertainty to be highly persistent. Instead, we adopt an outlier-adjusted stochastic volatility (SV) model for VAR residuals that combines transitory and persistent changes in ...
Working Papers , Paper 21-02

Working Paper
Measuring Uncertainty and Its Effects in the COVID-19 Era

We measure the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on macroeconomic and financial uncertainty, and we assess the consequences of the latter for key economic variables. We use a large, heteroskedastic vector autoregression (VAR) in which the error volatilities share two common factors, interpreted as macro and financial uncertainty, in addition to idiosyncratic components. Macro and financial uncertainty are allowed to contemporaneously affect the macroeconomy and financial conditions, with changes in the common component of the volatilities providing contemporaneous identifying information on ...
Working Papers , Paper 20-32

Working Paper
Modeling Time-Varying Uncertainty of Multiple-Horizon Forecast Errors

We develop uncertainty measures for point forecasts from surveys such as the Survey of Professional Forecasters, Blue Chip, or the Federal Open Market Committee?s Summary of Economic Projections. At a given point of time, these surveys provide forecasts for macroeconomic variables at multiple horizons. To track time-varying uncertainty in the associated forecast errors, we derive a multiple-horizon specification of stochastic volatility. Compared to constant-variance approaches, our stochastic-volatility model improves the accuracy of uncertainty measures for survey forecasts.
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1715

Working Paper
A Time Series Model of Interest Rates With the Effective Lower Bound

Modeling interest rates over samples that include the Great Recession requires taking stock of the effective lower bound (ELB) on nominal interest rates. We propose a flexible time? series approach which includes a ?shadow rate??a notional rate that is less than the ELB during the period in which the bound is binding?without imposing no?arbitrage assumptions.{{p}}The approach allows us to estimate the behavior of trend real rates as well as expected future interest rates in recent years.
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2016-033

Working Paper
Addressing COVID-19 Outliers in BVARs with Stochastic Volatility

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to enormous movements in economic data that strongly affect parameters and forecasts obtained from standard VARs. One way to address these issues is to model extreme observations as random shifts in the stochastic volatility (SV) of VAR residuals. Specifically, we propose VAR models with outlier-augmented SV that combine transitory and persistent changes in volatility. The resulting density forecasts for the COVID-19 period are much less sensitive to outliers in the data than standard VARs. Evaluating forecast performance over the last few decades, we find that ...
Working Papers , Paper 21-02R

Working Paper
Structural shocks and the comovements between output and interest rates

Stylized facts on U.S. output and interest rates have so far proved hard to match with DSGE models. But model predictions hinge on the joint specification of economic structure and a set of driving processes. In a model, different shocks often induce different comovements, such that the overall pattern depends as much on the specified transmission mechanisms from shocks to outcomes, as well as on the composition of these driving processes. I estimate covariances between output, nominal and real interest rate conditional on several shocks, since such evidence has largely been lacking in ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2010-21

Working Paper
Measuring Uncertainty and Its Effects in the COVID-19 Era

We measure the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on uncertainty, and we assess the consequences of the uncertainty for key economic variables. We use a large, heteroskedastic vector autoregression (VAR) in which the error volatilities share two common factors, interpreted as macro and financial uncertainty. Macro and financial uncertainty are allowed to contemporaneously affect the macroeconomy and financial conditions, with changes in the common component of the volatilities providing contemporaneous identifying information on uncertainty. The model includes additional latent volatility ...
Working Papers , Paper 20-32R

Working Paper
Modeling Time-Varying Uncertainty of Multiple-Horizon Forecast Errors

We develop uncertainty measures for point forecasts from surveys such as the Survey of Professional Forecasters, Blue Chip, or the Federal Open Market Committee's Summary of Economic Projections. At a given point of time, these surveys provide forecasts for macroeconomic variables at multiple horizons. To track time-varying uncertainty in the associated forecast errors, we derive a multiple-horizon specification of stochastic volatility. Compared to constant-variance approaches, our stochastic-volatility model improves the accuracy of uncertainty measures for survey forecasts.
Working Papers , Paper 2017-026

Working Paper
Managing beliefs about monetary policy under discretion

In models of monetary policy, discretionary policymaking often lacks the ability to manage public beliefs, which explains the theoretical appeal of policy rules and commitment strategies. But as shown in this paper, when a policymaker possesses private information, belief management becomes an integral part of optimal discretion policies and improves their performance. ; Solving for optimal policy in a simple New Keynesian model, this paper shows how discretionary losses are reduced when the policymaker has private information. Furthermore, disinflations are pursued more vigorously, when the ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2010-11

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