Mr. Philip Liu, Rafael Romeu, and Mr. Troy D Matheson
Macroeconomic policy decisions in real-time are based the assessment of current and future economic conditions. These assessments are made difficult by the presence of incomplete and noisy data. The problem is more acute for emerging market economies, where most economic data are released infrequently with a (sometimes substantial) lag. This paper evaluates "nowcasts" and forecasts of real GDP growth using five alternative models for ten Latin American countries. The results indicate that the flow of monthly data helps to improve forecast accuracy, and the dynamic factor model consistently produces more accurate nowcasts and forecasts relative to other model specifications, across most of the countries we consider.
Time series on economic activity in developing countries, in particular real GDP, are reported with important lags. Therefore, it is useful to construct indicators that coincide or lead the actual direction and level of economic activity. A general methodology to construct these indicators is proposed and adapted for Argentina. Three coincident indicators could be constructed, but no reliable leading indicator could be found. From an econometric standpoint, the coincident indicators produce satisfactory point estimates of real GDP. The series that enter the indicator are broadly consistent with what many economists believe is the main source of real GDP fluctuations in Argentina: shocks to the capital account of the balance of payments. This enhances the confidence in the econometric results.