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Jel Classification:C53 

Discussion Paper
Monitoring Real Activity in Real Time: The Weekly Economic Index

Economists are well-practiced at assessing real activity based on familiar aggregate time series, like the unemployment rate, industrial production, or GDP growth. However, these series represent monthly or quarterly averages of economic conditions, and are only available at a considerable lag, after the month or quarter ends. When the economy hits sudden headwinds, like the COVID-19 pandemic, conditions can evolve rapidly. How can we monitor the high-frequency evolution of the economy in “real time”?
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20200330b

Online Estimation of DSGE Models

This paper illustrates the usefulness of sequential Monte Carlo (SMC) methods in approximating DSGE model posterior distributions. We show how the tempering schedule can be chosen adaptively, explore the benefits of an SMC variant we call generalized tempering for ?online? estimation, and provide examples of multimodal posteriors that are well captured by SMC methods. We then use the online estimation of the DSGE model to compute pseudo-out-of-sample density forecasts of DSGE models with and without financial frictions and document the benefits of conditioning DSGE model forecasts on nowcasts ...
Staff Reports , Paper 893

Economic predictions with big data: the illusion of sparsity

We compare sparse and dense representations of predictive models in macroeconomics, microeconomics, and finance. To deal with a large number of possible predictors, we specify a prior that allows for both variable selection and shrinkage. The posterior distribution does not typically concentrate on a single sparse or dense model, but on a wide set of models. A clearer pattern of sparsity can only emerge when models of very low dimension are strongly favored a priori.
Staff Reports , Paper 847

The forward guidance puzzle

With short-term interest rates at the zero lower bound, forward guidance has become a key tool for central bankers, and yet we know little about its effectiveness. This paper first empirically documents the impact of forward guidance announcements on a broad cross section of financial markets data and professional forecasts. We find that Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) announcements containing forward guidance had heterogeneous effects depending on the other content of the statement. We show that once we control for these other elements, forward guidance had, on average, positive and ...
Staff Reports , Paper 574

Macroeconomic nowcasting and forecasting with big data

Data, data, data . . . Economists know it well, especially when it comes to monitoring macroeconomic conditions?the basis for making informed economic and policy decisions. Handling large and complex data sets was a challenge that macroeconomists engaged in real-time analysis faced long before ?big data? became pervasive in other disciplines. We review how methods for tracking economic conditions using big data have evolved over time and explain how econometric techniques have advanced to mimic and automate the best practices of forecasters on trading desks, at central banks, and in other ...
Staff Reports , Paper 830

Real-time inflation forecasting in a changing world

This paper revisits the accuracy of inflation forecasting using activity and expectations variables. We apply Bayesian-model averaging across different regression specifications selected from a set of potential predictors that includes lagged values of inflation, a host of real activity data, term structure data, nominal data, and surveys. In this model average, we can entertain different channels of structural instability by incorporating stochastic breaks in the regression parameters of each individual specification within this average, allowing for breaks in the error variance of the ...
Staff Reports , Paper 388

Forecasting in large macroeconomic panels using Bayesian Model Averaging

This paper considers the problem of forecasting in large macroeconomic panels using Bayesian model averaging. Practical methods for implementing Bayesian model averaging with factor models are described. These methods involve algorithms that simulate from the space defined by all possible models. We explain how these simulation algorithms can also be used to select the model with the highest marginal likelihood (or highest value of an information criterion) in an efficient manner. We apply these methods to the problem of forecasting GDP and inflation using quarterly U.S. data on 162 time ...
Staff Reports , Paper 163

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
Predicting Benchmarked US State Employment Data in Real Time

US payroll employment data come from a survey of nonfarm business establishments and are therefore subject to revisions. While the revisions are generally small at the national level, they can be large enough at the state level to substantially alter assessments of current economic conditions. Researchers and policymakers must therefore exercise caution in interpreting state employment data until they are “benchmarked” against administrative data on the universe of workers some 5 to 16 months after the reference period. This paper develops and tests a state space model that predicts ...
Working Papers , Paper 2019-037

Working Paper
Binary Conditional Forecasts

While conditional forecasting has become prevalent both in the academic literature and in practice (e.g., bank stress testing, scenario forecasting), its applications typically focus on continuous variables. In this paper, we merge elements from the literature on the construction and implementation of conditional forecasts with the literature on forecasting binary variables. We use the Qual-VAR [Dueker (2005)], whose joint VAR-probit structure allows us to form conditional forecasts of the latent variable which can then be used to form probabilistic forecasts of the binary variable. We apply ...
Working Papers , Paper 2019-29


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McCracken, Michael W. 15 items

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