Nowcasting East German GDP Growth: a MIDAS Approach
Economic forecasts are an important element of rational economic policy both on the federal and on the local or regional level. Solid budgetary plans for government expenditures and revenues rely on efficient macroeconomic projections. However, official data on quarterly regional GDP in Germany are not available, and hence, regional GDP forecasts do not play an important role in public budget planning. We provide a new quarterly time series for East German GDP and develop a forecasting approach for East German GDP that takes data availability in real time and regional economic indicators into account. Overall, we find that mixed-data sampling model forecasts for East German GDP in combination with model averaging outperform regional forecast models that only rely on aggregate national information.
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Regional, Individual and Political Determinants of FOMC Members' Key Macroeconomic Forecasts
Journal of Forecasting,
We study Federal Open Market Committee members' individual forecasts of inflation and unemployment in the period 1992–2004. Our results imply that Governors and Bank presidents forecast differently, with Governors submitting lower inflation and higher unemployment rate forecasts than bank presidents. For Bank presidents we find a regional bias, with higher district unemployment rates being associated with lower inflation and higher unemployment rate forecasts. Bank presidents' regional bias is more pronounced during the year prior to their elections or for nonvoting bank presidents. Career backgrounds or political affiliations also affect individual forecast behavior.
Much Ado About Nothing: Sovereign Ratings and Government Bond Yields in the OECD
In this paper, we propose a new method to assess the impact of sovereign ratings on sovereign bond yields. We estimate the impulse response of the interest rate, following a change in the rating. Since ratings are ordinal and moreover extremely persistent, it proves difficult to estimate those impulse response functions using a VAR modeling ratings, yields and other macroeconomic indicators. However, given the highly stochastic nature of the precise timing of ratings, we can treat most rating adjustments as shocks. We thus no longer rely on a VAR for shock identification, making the estimation of the corresponding IRFs well suited for so called local projections – that is estimating impulse response functions through a series of separate direct forecasts over different horizons. Yet, the rare occurrence of ratings makes impulse response functions estimated through that procedure highly sensitive to individual observations, resulting in implausibly volatile impulse responses. We propose an augmentation to restrict jointly estimated local projections in a way that produces economically plausible impulse response functions.
Financial Factors in Macroeconometric Models
Volkswirtschaft, Ökonomie, Shaker Verlag GmbH, Aachen,
The important role of credit has long been identified as a key factor for economic development (see e.g. Wicksell (1898), Keynes (1931), Fisher (1933) and Minsky (1957, 1964)). Even before the financial crisis most researchers and policy makers agreed that financial frictions play an important role for business cycles and that financial turmoils can result in severe economic downturns (see e.g. Mishkin (1978), Bernanke (1981, 1983), Diamond (1984), Calomiris (1993) and Bernanke and Gertler (1995)). However, in practice researchers and policy makers mostly used simplified models for forecasting and simulation purposes. They often neglected the impact of financial frictions and emphasized other non financial market frictions when analyzing business cycle fluctuations (prominent exceptions include Kiyotaki and Moore (1997), Bernanke, Gertler, and Gilchrist (1999) and Christiano, Motto, and Rostagno (2010)). This has been due to the fact that most economic downturns did not seem to be closely related to financial market failures (see Eichenbaum (2011)). The outbreak of the subprime crises ― which caused panic in financial markets and led to the default of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 ― then led to a reconsideration of such macroeconomic frameworks (see Caballero (2010) and Trichet (2011)). To address the economic debate from a new perspective, it is therefore necessary to integrate the relevant frictions which help to explain what we have experienced during recent years.
In this thesis, I analyze different ways to incorporate relevant frictions and financial variables in macroeconometric models. I discuss the potential consequences for standard statistical inference and macroeconomic policy. I cover three different aspects in this work. Each aspect presents an idea in a self-contained unit. The following paragraphs present more detail on the main topics covered.
Macroeconomic Challenges in the Euro Area and the Acceding Countries
Dissertation, Fachbereich Wirtschaftswissenschaften der Universität Osnabrück,
deutscher Titel: Makroökonomische Herausforderungen für die Eurozone und die Beitrittskandidaten
Abstract: The conduct of effective economic policy faces a multiplicity of macroeconomic challenges, which requires a wide scope of theoretical and empirical analyses. With a focus on the European Union, this doctoral dissertation consists of two parts which make empirical and methodological contributions to the literature on forecasting real economic activity and on the analysis of business cycles in a boom-bust framework in the light of the EMU enlargement. In the first part, we tackle the problem of publication lags and analyse the role of the information flow in computing short-term forecasts up to one quarter ahead for the euro area GDP and its main components. A huge dataset of monthly indicators is used to estimate simple bridge equations. The individual forecasts are then pooled, using different weighting schemes. To take into consideration the release calendar of each indicator, six forecasts are compiled successively during the quarter. We find that the sequencing of information determines the weight allocated to each block of indicators, especially when the first month of hard data becomes available. This conclusion extends the findings of the recent literature. Moreover, when combining forecasts, two weighting schemes are found to outperform the equal weighting scheme in almost all cases. In the second part, we focus on the potential accession of the new EU Member States in Central and Eastern Europe to the euro area. In contrast to the discussion of Optimum Currency Areas, we follow a non-standard approach for the discussion on abandonment of national currencies the boom-bust theory. We analyse whether evidence for boom-bust cycles is given and draw conclusions whether these countries should join the EMU in the near future. Using a broad range of data sets and empirical methods we document credit market imperfections, comprising asymmetric financing opportunities across sectors, excess foreign currency liabilities and contract enforceability problems both at macro and micro level. Furthermore, we depart from the standard analysis of comovements of business cycles among countries and rather consider long-run and short-run comovements across sectors. While the results differ across countries, we find evidence for credit market imperfections in Central and Eastern Europe and different sectoral reactions to shocks. This gives favour for the assessment of the potential euro accession using this supplementary, non-standard approach.