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Mr. Ramzy Al Amine and Tim Willems
We find that countries which are able to borrow at spreads that seem low given fundamentals (for example because investors take a bullish view on a country's future), are more likely to develop economic difficulties later on. We obtain this result through a two-stage procedure, where a first regression links sovereign spreads to fundamentals, after which residuals from this regression are deployed in a second stage to assess their impact on future outcomes (real GDP growth and the occurrence of fiscal crises). We confirm the relevance of past sovereign debt mispricing in several out-of-sample exercises, where they reduce the RMSE of real GDP growth forecasts by as much as 15 percent. This provides strong support for theories of sentiment affecting the business cycle. Our findings also suggest that countries shouldn't solely rely on spread levels when determining their fiscal strategy; underlying fundamentals should inform policy as well, since historical relationships between spreads and fundamentals often continue to apply in the medium-to-long run.
Mr. Serhan Cevik
The widespread availability of internet search data is a new source of high-frequency information that can potentially improve the precision of macroeconomic forecasting, especially in areas with data constraints. This paper investigates whether travel-related online search queries enhance accuracy in the forecasting of tourist arrivals to The Bahamas from the U.S. The results indicate that the forecast model incorporating internet search data provides additional information about tourist flows over a univariate approach using the traditional autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) model and multivariate models with macroeconomic indicators. The Google Trends-augmented model improves predictability of tourist arrivals by about 30 percent compared to the benchmark ARIMA model and more than 20 percent compared to the model extended only with income and relative prices.
Klaus-Peter Hellwig
I regress real GDP growth rates on the IMF’s growth forecasts and find that IMF forecasts behave similarly to those generated by overfitted models, placing too much weight on observable predictors and underestimating the forces of mean reversion. I identify several such variables that explain forecasts well but are not predictors of actual growth. I show that, at long horizons, IMF forecasts are little better than a forecasting rule that uses no information other than the historical global sample average growth rate (i.e., a constant). Given the large noise component in forecasts, particularly at longer horizons, the paper calls into question the usefulness of judgment-based medium and long-run forecasts for policy analysis, including for debt sustainability assessments, and points to statistical methods to improve forecast accuracy by taking into account the risk of overfitting.
Chandranath Amarasekara, Rahul Anand, Kithsiri Ehelepola, Hemantha Ekanayake, Vishuddhi Jayawickrema, Sujeetha Jegajeevan, Csaba Kober, Tharindi Nugawela, Sergey Plotnikov, Adam Remo, Poongothai Venuganan, and Rasika Yatigammana
This study documents a semi-structural model developed for Sri Lanka. This model, extended with a fiscal sector block, is expected to serve as a core forecasting model in the process of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s move towards flexible inflation targeting. The model includes a forward-looking endogenous interest rate and foreign exchange rate policy rules allowing for flexible change in policy behavior. It is a gap model that allows for simultaneous identification of business cycle position and long-term equilibrium. The model was first calibrated and then its data-fit was improved using Bayesian estimation technique with relatively tight priors.
Mr. Sergi Lanau, Adrian Robles, and Mr. Frederik G Toscani
We study inflation dynamics in Colombia using a bottom-up Phillips curve approach. This allows us to capture the different drivers of individual inflation components. We find that the Phillips curve is relatively flat in Colombia but steeper than recent estimates for the U.S. Supply side shocks play an important role for tradable and food prices, while indexation dynamics are important for non-tradable goods. We show that besides allowing for a more detailed understanding of inflation drivers, the bottom-up approach also improves on an aggregate Phillips curve in terms of forecasting ability. In the baseline forecast scenario, both headline and core inflation converge towards the Central Bank’s inflation target of 3 percent by end-2018 but these favorable inflation dynamics are vulnerable to large supply shocks.
Sylwia Nowak and Pratiti Chatterjee
Macroeconomic forecasts are persistently too optimistic. This paper finds that common factors related to general uncertainty about U.S. macrofinancial prospects and global demand drive this overoptimism. These common factors matter most for advanced economies and G- 20 countries. The results suggest that an increase in uncertainty-driven overoptimism has dampening effects on next-year real GDP growth rates. This implies that incorporating the common structure governing forecast errors across countries can help improve subsequent forecasts.
Giang Ho and Mr. Paolo Mauro
Forecasters often predict continued rapid economic growth into the medium and long term for countries that have recently experienced strong growth. Using long-term forecasts of economic growth from the IMF/World Bank staff Debt Sustainability Analyses for a panel of countries, we show that the baseline forecasts are more optimistic than warranted by past international growth experience. Further, by comparing the IMF’s World Economic Outlook forecasts with actual growth outcomes, we show that optimism bias is greater the longer the forecast horizon.
Mr. Ales Bulir, Jaromír Hurník, and Katerina Smidkova
We offer a novel methodology for assessing the quality of inflation reports. In contrast to the existing literature, which mostly evaluates the formal quality of these reports, we evaluate their economic content by comparing inflation factors reported by the central banks with ex-post model-identified factors. Regarding the former, we use verbal analysis and coding of inflation reports to describe inflation factors communicated by central banks in real time. Regarding the latter, we use reduced-form, new Keynesian models and revised data to approximate the true inflation factors. Positive correlations indicate that the reported inflation factors were similar to the true, model-identified ones and hence mark high-quality inflation reports. Although central bank reports on average identify inflation factors correctly, the degree of forward-looking reporting varies across factors, time, and countries.
International Monetary Fund

Estonia’s commitment to free markets and prudent financial policies has paid off handsomely. Demand pressures and rapid productivity growth have produced strong wage increases and large employment gains. Inflation, while moderate for a fast-converging economy, remains above the Maastricht threshold, and has been pushed up in recent months by rises in nontraded goods prices. Estonia’s economic growth has supported—and been supported by—rapid credit growth, financed increasingly by resource transfers from Nordic banking groups to Estonian affiliates. The macroeconomic impact of EU funds is needed.

International Monetary Fund

The paper discusses the purpose, properties, and theoretical foundations of various indicators of inflation and also describes the forecasting methodology and performance of these indicators. It reviews the successful European labor market reform experiences and analyzes regulatory and supervisory frameworks in the European Union (EU), and assessments carried out under the IMF-World Bank Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP). It also investigates whether the cross-country correlation of bank business in Europe makes a good case for pan-European supervision.