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ALLAN TIMMERMANN

This paper conducts a series of statistical tests to evaluate the quality of the World Economic Outlook (WEO) forecasts for a very large cross section of countries. It assesses whether forecasts were unbiased and informationally efficient, characterizes the process whereby WEO forecasts get revised as the predicted period draws closer, and compares the precision of the WEO forecasts to private sector forecasts known as “consensus forecasts” and published by Consensus Economics on a monthly basis. The results suggest that the performance of the WEO forecasts is similar to that of the consensus forecasts. IMF Staff Papers (2007) 54, 1–33. doi:10.1057/palgrave.imfsp.9450007

Mr. Allan Timmermann
The World Economic Outlook (WEO) is a key source of forecasts of global economic conditions. It is therefore important to review the performance of these forecasts against both actual outcomes and alternative forecasts. This paper conducts a series of statistical tests to evaluate the quality of the WEO forecasts for a very large cross section of countries, with particular emphasis on the recent recession and recovery. It assesses whether forecasts were unbiased and informationally efficient, and characterizes the process whereby WEO forecasts get revised as the time to the point of the forecast draws closer. Finally, the paper assess whether forecasts can be improved by combining WEO forecasts with the Consensus forecasts. The results suggest that the performance of the WEO forecasts is similar to that of the Consensus forecasts. While WEO forecasts for many variables in many countries meet basic quality standards in some, if not all, dimensions, the paper raises a number of concerns with current forecasting performance.
Mr. Tamim Bayoumi and Mr. Markus Haacker
This paper analyzes the welfare benefits from falling relative prices of IT (information technology) goods across a wide range of countries. We find, using two separate methodologies and datasets, that welfare benefits mainly accrue to users of IT, not their producers, because of falling relative prices. This is important, as IT production and use are highly differentiated across countries, and implies that earlier work on how IT production affects real GDP, while useful in calibrating the overall benefits of the IT revolution, are a less valuable way of assessing the distribution of benefits.
Ms. Longmei Zhang, Mr. Ray Brooks, Ding Ding, Haiyan Ding, Hui He, Jing Lu, and Rui Mano
China’s high national savings rate—one of the highest in the world—is at the heart of its external/internal imbalances. High savings finance elevated investment when held domestically, or lead to large external imbalances when they flow abroad. Today, high savings mostly emanate from the household sector, resulting from demographic changes induced by the one-child policy and the transformation of the social safety net and job security that occured during the transition from planned to market economy. Housing reform and rising income inequality also contribute to higher savings. Moving forward, demographic changes will put downward pressure on savings. Policy efforts in strengthening the social safety net and reducing income inequality are also needed to reduce savings further and boost consumption.