The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Benchmarking methods can be used to extrapolate (or 'nowcast') low-frequency benchmarks on the basis of available high-frequency indicators. Quarterly national accounts are a typical example, where a number of monthly and quarterly indicators of economic activity are used to calculate preliminary annual estimates of GDP. Using both simulated and real-life national accounts data, this paper aims at assessing the prediction accuracy of three benchmarking methods widely used in the national accounts compilation: the proportional Denton method, the proportional Cholette-Dagum method with first-order autoregressive error, and the regression-based Chow-Lin method. The results show that the Cholette-Dagum method provides the most accurate extrapolations when the indicator and the annual benchmarks move along the same trend. However, the Denton and Chow-Lin methods could prevail in real-life cases when the quarterly indicator temporarily deviates from the target series.