What does the market think? A general approach to inferring market expectations from futures prices
Christiane Baumeister, Lutz Kilian 19 November 2014
Futures prices are a potentially valuable source of information about market expectations of asset prices. This column discusses a general approach to recovering this expectation when there is no agreement on the nature of the time-varying risk premium contained in futures prices. The authors illustrate this approach by tackling the long-standing problem of how to recover the market expectation of the price of crude oil.
There has been rapid growth in the volume of trading on futures exchanges in recent years. For example, Irwin and Sanders (2012) document that trading volumes in agricultural futures markets have increased by a factor of 3 since 2000. Futures contracts allow market participants to lock in today the price of future transactions covering a wide range of commodities and financial assets. The price of such futures contracts is a potentially valuable source of information about market expectations.
Financial markets Frontiers of economic research
futures, expectations, trading, risk premia, asset prices, oil, oil prices, forecasting
Demography and economics: Look past the past
Charles A.E. Goodhart, Philipp Erfurth 04 November 2014
Most of the world is now at the point where the support ratio is becoming adverse, and the growth of the global workforce is slowing. This column argues that these changes will have profound and negative effects on economic growth. This implies that negative real interest rates are not the new normal, but rather an extreme artefact of a series of trends, several of which are coming to an end. By 2025, real interest rates should have returned to their historical equilibrium value of around 2.5–3%.
Our history is our database. When seeking to peer dimly into the future, our normal response is to examine what happened in (similar) past episodes and then to extrapolate those outcomes into the future. This assumption, that the future will mimic the past, is hard-wired into almost all our forecasting exercises, from the most simple to the econometrically and technically most complex.
Global economy Labour markets
forecasting, demographics, Ageing, fertility, globalisation, savings, consumption, life cycle, old age, healthcare, Retirement, investment, interest rates, labour productivity, technology, technology transfer
Rapid growth in emerging markets and developing economies: Now and forever?
Giang Ho, Paolo Mauro 12 September 2014
Forecasters often predict continued rapid economic growth into the medium and long term for countries that have recently experienced strong growth. Is this optimism warranted by past international growth experience? This column explores this question by looking at economic growth forecasts at longer-term horizons.
Projecting a country’s economic growth into the medium term and beyond is notoriously difficult. At the same time, getting the growth projections wrong has major adverse consequences. For fiscal policymakers, overestimating future economic growth implies underestimating the government debt-to-GDP ratio that will be reached at the end of the projection period (in the absence of corrective policy measures).
Development Macroeconomic policy
optimism bias, forecasting, growth, IMF, World Bank
Model risk and the implications for risk management, macroprudential policy, and financial regulations
Jon Danielsson, Kevin James, Marcela Valenzuela, Ilknur Zer 08 June 2014
Risk forecasting is central to financial regulations, risk management, and macroprudential policy. This column raises concerns about the reliance on risk forecasting, since risk forecast models have high levels of model risk – especially when the models are needed the most, during crises. Policymakers should be wary of relying solely on such models. Formal model-risk analysis should be a part of the regulatory design process.
Risk forecasting is central to macroprudential policy, financial regulations, and the operations of financial institutions. Therefore, the accuracy of risk forecast models – model risk analysis – should be a key concern for the users of such models. Surprisingly, this does not appear to be the case. Both industry practice and regulatory guidance currently neglect the risk that the models themselves can pose, even though this problem has long been noted in the literature (see for example Hendricks 1996 and Berkowitz and O’Brien 2002).
financial crises, financial regulation, forecasting, risk management, Macroprudential policy
“There will be growth in the spring”: How well do economists predict turning points?
Hites Ahir, Prakash Loungani 14 April 2014
Forecasters have a poor reputation for predicting recessions. This column quantifies their ability to do so, and explores several reasons why both official and private forecasters may fail to call a recession before it happens.
Since the onset of the Great Recession, much of the world has been in a state of economic winter: nearly 50 countries were in recession in 2009 and 15 countries slipped into recession in 2012. After weak global growth in 2013, economic forecasters are predicting a rosier outlook this year and next. Can these forecasts be trusted? Or are forecasters simply intoning – like Chauncey Gardner, the character played by Peter Sellers in the movie Being There – that “there will be growth in the spring”?
Are exchange rates predictable?
Barbara Rossi 14 November 2013
Predicting exchange rates is still an inexact science. Economic models perform poorly, and a plethora of alternative methods have been attempted. This column guides the reader through the state of the art, reviewing various predictors, models, and data specifications. Despite a large and divergent literature chasing this holy grail, the toughest benchmark remains the random walk without drift.
The predictability of exchange rates is a crucial question in international finance and macroeconomics. Policy decisions of central banks and policymakers all over the world rely, directly or indirectly, on exchange rate forecasts. The same holds for private business and practitioners' decisions. Discussions in policy circles and forecasting businesses often revolve around the difficult theme of forecasting exchange rates, as the recent discussions about currency wars and international monetary-policy coordination during the recent financial crisis have shown.
exchange rates, random walk, predictions, forecasting
Should the role of preparing budgetary projections be delegated to an independent agency?
Rossana Merola, Javier J. Pérez 01 May 2013
Who should we trust when it comes to fiscal forecasts: governments or independent agencies? This column argues that this question is, in fact, a red herring: empirical evidence suggests that in the past, international agencies’ fiscal forecasts were partially affected by the same problems that the literature widely acknowledges for governmental forecasts. An attractive solution is independent national forecasters.
The debate about fiscal forecasts has recently been growing more intense in Europe. At its root, there is the evidence of planned government deficits significantly exceeding recurrent budgetary plans in recent years. This comes at a time of high public deficit and debt levels for EU member states. Explanatory factors for these misalignments include large GDP shocks and fiscal-stimulus packages adopted on the run. Beyond these explanations, there is also a distinct lack of both transparency and realistic accounts of the facts.
Global crisis Monetary policy
fiscal policy, forecasting, Eurozone crisis
Federal Open Market Committee forecasts: Guesses or guidance?
Peter Tillmann 23 February 2012
As the US Federal Reserve starts to increase the transparency of its decision-making process, including the release of economic forecasts and interest-rate projections, this column asks whether these projections reflect strategic motives that might make them less accurate and less useful to those wanting to predict monetary policy.
Macroeconomic policy Monetary policy
inflation, monetary policy, transparency, Federal Reserve, forecasting, Federal Open Market Committee
Macroeconomic model comparisons and forecast competitions
Volker Wieland, Maik Wolters 13 February 2012
Where were economists when the global recession hit? Or rather, where were their forecasts in the years before? This column argues that clearly some of the models were at fault. To correct this, it proposes a ‘comparative approach’ to macroeconomic analysis where models compete for the right to be taken seriously.
The failure of economists to predict the Great Recession of 2008–09 has rightly come under attack. The areas receiving most criticism have been economic forecasting and macroeconomic modelling. Distinguished economists – among them Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman – have blamed developments in macroeconomic modelling over the last 30 years and particularly the use of dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models for this failure.
Frontiers of economic research Macroeconomic policy
DSGE models, forecasting
New tools for forecasting the real price of crude oil
Lutz Kilian 23 June 2011
Reduced Libyan output, broader political unrest in the Middle East, and a slow global recovery have raised the uncertainty surrounding oil prices. This column discusses the challenges and value of forecasting future oil prices in real time, as opposed to fitting models to revised oil prices released months after economic decisions are made.
The real (inflation-adjusted) price of crude oil is a key variable in the macroeconomic projections generated by central banks, private sector forecasters, and international organisations (IMF 2005, 2007). The recent cutback in Libyan oil production, widespread political unrest in the Middle East, and ongoing concerns about the state of the global recovery from the financial crisis have sharpened awareness of the uncertainty about the future path of the real price of crude oil.
Crude oil, forecasting