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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 ...
Credit, Bankruptcy, and Aggregate Fluctuations
We document the cyclical properties of unsecured consumer credit (procyclical and volatile) and of consumer bankruptcies (countercyclical and very volatile). Using a growth model with household heterogeneity in earnings and assets with access to unsecured credit (because of bankruptcy costs) and aggregate shocks, we show that the cyclical behavior of household earnings growth accounts for these properties, albeit not for the large volatility of credit. We ?nd that tilting household consumption towards goods that can be purchased on credit and a slight countercyclicality in the terms of access ...
A Quantitative Theory of Time-Consistent Unemployment Insurance
During recessions, the U.S. government substantially increases the duration of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits through multiple extensions. This paper seeks to understand the incentives driving these increases. Because of the trade-off between insurance and job search incentives, the classic time-inconsistency problem arises. During recessions, the U.S. government substantially increases the duration of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits through multiple extensions. This paper seeks to understand the incentives driving these extensions. Because of the trade-off between insurance and ...
Recent changes in the U.S. business cycle
The U.S. business cycle expansion that started in March 1991 is the longest on record. This paper uses statistical techniques to examine whether this expansion is a onetime unique event or whether its length is a result of a change in the stability of the U.S. economy. Bayesian methods are used to estimate a common factor model that allows for structural breaks in the dynamics of a wide range of macroeconomic variables. We find strong evidence that a reduction in volatility is common to the series examined. Further, the reduction in volatility implies that future expansions will be ...
Financial variables and macroeconomic forecast errors
A large set of financial variables has only limited power to predict a latent factor common to the year-ahead forecast errors for real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, the unemployment rate, and Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation for three sets of professional forecasters: the Federal Reserve?s Greenbook, the Survey of Professional Forecasters (SPF), and the Blue Chip Consensus Forecasts. Even when a financial variable appears to be fairly robust across sample periods in explaining the latent factor, from an economic standpoint its contribution appears modest. Still, several financial ...