Karim Barhoumi, Seung Mo Choi, Tara Iyer, Jiakun Li, Franck Ouattara, Mr. Andrew J Tiffin, and Jiaxiong Yao
The COVID-19 crisis has had a tremendous economic impact for all countries. Yet, assessing the full impact of the crisis has been frequently hampered by the delayed publication of official GDP statistics in several emerging market and developing economies. This paper outlines a machine-learning framework that helps track economic activity in real time for these economies. As illustrative examples, the framework is applied to selected sub-Saharan African economies. The framework is able to provide timely information on economic activity more swiftly than official statistics.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
The currency in circulation forecasting model presently used by the Central Bank of Jordan is aligned with international practices and provides a solid basis for liquidity management. The central bank uses an Auto Regressive Integrated Moving Average (ARIMA) model with many indicator variables to model binary seasonality and to capture special events. The ARIMA model is fitted on daily currency in circulation data using a standard maximum likelihood estimator. This ARIMA approach is aligned with the models traditionally used by central banks in emerging and middle-income countries.
Mr. Jean-Francois Dauphin, Mr. Kamil Dybczak, Morgan Maneely, Marzie Taheri Sanjani, Mrs. Nujin Suphaphiphat, Yifei Wang, and Hanqi Zhang
This paper describes recent work to strengthen nowcasting capacity at the IMF’s European department. It motivates and compiles datasets of standard and nontraditional variables, such as Google search and air quality. It applies standard dynamic factor models (DFMs) and several machine learning (ML) algorithms to nowcast GDP growth across a heterogenous group of European economies during normal and crisis times. Most of our methods significantly outperform the AR(1) benchmark model. Our DFMs tend to perform better during normal times while many of the ML methods we used performed strongly at identifying turning points. Our approach is easily applicable to other countries, subject to data availability.
Nils Mæhle, Tibor Hlédik, Mikhail Pranovich, Carina Selander, and Mikhail Pranovich
This paper takes stock of forecasting and policy analysis system capacity development (FPAS CD), drawing extensively on the experience and lessons learned from developing FPAS capacity in the central banks. By sharing the insights gained during FPAS CD delivery and outlining the typical tools developed in the process, the paper aims to facilitate the understanding of FPAS CD within the IMF and to inform future CD on building macroeconomic frameworks. As such, the paper offers a qualitative assessment of the experience with FPAS CD delivery and the use of FPAS in the decision-making process in central banks.
We analyze the causes of the apparent bias towards optimism in growth forecasts underpinning the design of IMF-supported programs, which has been documented in the literature. We find that financial variables observable to forecasters are strong predictors of growth forecast errors. The greater the expansion of the credit-to-GDP gap in the years preceding a program, the greater its over-optimism about growth over the next two years. This result is strongest among forecasts that were most optimistic, where errors are also increasing in the economy’s degree of liability dollarization. We find that the inefficient use of financial information applies to growth forecasts more broadly, including the IMF’s forecasts in the World Economic Outlook and those produced by professional forecasters compiled by Consensus Economics. We conclude that improved macrofinancial analysis represents a promising avenue for reducing over-optimism in growth forecasts.
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.
This 2019 Article IV Consultation with the Republic of Croatia discusses that it experienced its fifth consecutive year of solid economic growth, once again driven largely by private consumption and tourism. Employment gains have been robust, wages have continued to rise, while import prices have helped to keep inflation muted. Increased absorption of European Union funds is likely to raise public investment in the coming years. In conjunction with continued strong consumption, the current account surplus is expected to decline, and turn into a moderate deficit, while economic growth moderates. Both public and external indebtedness are expected to continue their declining trajectories. The pace of fiscal consolidation in 2019 continued to slow, with the budget estimated to be close to balance. Contingent liabilities could also pressure budget balances in the coming years.