The forecasting power of consumer attitudes for consumer spending
The widely studied Reuters/Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment is constructed from the answers to five questions from the more comprehensive Reuters/Michigan Surveys of Consumers. Yet little work has been done on what predictive power the information taken from this more thorough compilation of consumer attitudes and expectations may have for forecasting consumption expenditures. The authors construct a limited set of real-time summary measures for 42 questions selected from these broader Surveys corresponding to three broad economic determinants of consumption?income and wealth, prices, and ...
What's the Story? A New Perspective on the Value of Economic Forecasts
We apply textual analysis tools to measure the degree of optimism versus pessimism of the text that describes Federal Reserve Board forecasts published in the Greenbook. The resulting measure of Greenbook text sentiment, ?Tonality,? is found to be strongly correlated, in the intuitive direction, with the Greenbook point forecast for key economic variables such as unemployment and inflation. We then examine whether Tonality has incremental power for predicting unemployment, GDP growth, and inflation up to four quarters ahead. We find it to have significant and substantive predictive power for ...
Assessing monetary accommodation: a simple empirical model of monetary policy and its implications for unemployment and inflation
This note suggests that household wealth growth and a long-forward interest rate can be used to construct a simple and convenient reference standard for assessing the current stance of monetary policy. It shows that the difference between the federal funds rate and this reference interest rate is a powerful predictor of the unemployment rate and inflation, producing real-time forecasts that are competitive with consensus-based forecasts from surveys of forecasting professionals. Moreover, one can understand past FOMC policy actions as efforts to adjust the stance of policy, so measured, in ...
Tracking and stress-testing U.S. household leverage
Borrowers? housing equity is an important component of their wealth and a critical determinant of their vulnerability to shocks. In this paper, we create a unique data set that enables us to provide a comprehensive look at the ratio of housing debt to housing values?what we refer to as household leverage?at the micro level. An advantage of our data is that we are able to study the evolution of household leverage over time and locations in the United States. We find that leverage was at a very low point just prior to the large declines in house prices that began in 2006, and rose very quickly ...
Forecasting Consumption Spending Using Credit Bureau Data
This paper considers whether the inclusion of information contained in consumer credit reports might improve the predictive accuracy of forecasting models for consumption spending. To investigate the usefulness of aggregate consumer credit information in forecasting consumption spending, this paper sets up a baseline forecasting model. Based on this model, a simulated real-time, out-of-sample exercise is conducted to forecast one-quarter ahead consumption spending. The exercise is run again after the addition of credit bureau variables to the model. Finally, a comparison is made to test ...
Advance Layoff Notices and Labor Market Forecasting
We collect rich establishment-level data about advance layoff notices filed under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act since January 1990. We present in-sample evidence that the number of workers affected by WARN notices leads state-level initial unemployment insurance claims, changes in the unemployment rate, and changes in private employment. The effects are strongest at the one and two-month horizons. After aggregating state-level information to a national-level “WARN factor” using a dynamic factor model, we find that the factor substantially improves ...
Approximating Time Varying Structural Models With Time Invariant Structures
The paper studies how parameter variation affects the decision rules of a DSGE model and structural inference. We provide diagnostics to detect parameter variations and to ascertain whether they are exogenous or endogenous. Identifi cation and inferential distortions when a constant parameter model is incorrectly assumed are examined. Likelihood and VAR-based estimates of the structural dynamics when parameter variations are neglected are compared. Time variations in the financial frictions of Gertler and Karadi's (2010) model are studied.
Heterogeneity and Unemployment Dynamics
This paper develops new estimates of flows into and out of unemployment that allow for unobserved heterogeneity across workers as well as direct effects of unemployment duration on unemployment-exit probabilities. Unlike any previous paper in this literature, we develop a complete dynamic statistical model that allows us to measure the contribution of different shocks to the short-run, medium-run, and long-run variance of unemployment as well as to specific historical episodes. We find that changes in the inflows of newly unemployed are the key driver of economic recessions and identify an ...
Raiders of the Lost High-Frequency Forecasts: New Data and Evidence on the Efficiency of the Fed's Forecasting
We introduce a new dataset of real gross domestic product (GDP) growth and core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) inflation forecasts produced by the staff of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. In contrast to the eight Greenbook forecasts a year the staff produces for Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings, our dataset has roughly weekly forecasts. We use these new data to study whether the staff forecasts efficiently and whether efficiency, or lack thereof, is time-varying. Prespecified regressions of forecast errors on forecast revisions show that the staff's ...
Analyzing data revisions with a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model
We use a structural dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model to investigate how initial data releases of key macroeconomic aggregates are related to final revised versions and how identified aggregate shocks influence data revisions. The analysis sheds light on how well preliminary data approximate final data and on how policy makers might condition their view of the preliminary data when formulating policy actions. The results suggest that monetary policy shocks and multifactor productivity shocks lead to predictable revisions to the initial release data on output growth and inflation.