Recent and Ongoing Projects
Recent Press and Noteworthy Events
February 5, 2017: Congratulations to RPF member Renée Fry-McKibbin who is Scope 2017 Forecaster of the year (tied with Stephen Anthony and Bill Mitchell). She was particularly noted for predicting the faster increase in house prices in Australia than were anticpated by most forecasters. Great job Renée!
October 19, 2016: Herman O. Stekler and Yongchen Zhao posted on the Columbia Law Scho's Blue Sky Blog, "Predicting Recession: Could a Simple Method Deliver Superior Results?" based on their recent RPF working paper.
December 16, 2015: RPF Working Paper No. 2014-005, "Evaluating Qualitative Forecasts: The FOMC Minutes, 2006-2010", by Herman O. Stekler and Hilary Symington, was cited by Reuters in the article "Overoptimistic Fed strains credibility on forecasts."
February 2, 2015 : The special issue of the International Journal of Forecasting honoring RPF member Herman Stekler has been published!
- Link to Stekler issue of IJoF: International Journal of Forecasting Volume 31, Issue 1, Pages 93-221 (January–March 2015)
- Link to story by RPF member Prakash Loungani about Herman and the issue (with pictures!)
- Link to IJoF Editor Rob Hyndman’s blog on Herman and the special issue
January 13, 2015: RPF member Herman Stekler has started a blog. You can read his posts at: https://econforecasting.wordpress.com/
September 25, 2014: Research by RPF members Fred Joutz, Prakash Loungani, Tara Sinclair, and Herman Stekler was cited in Why the Experts Missed the Recession in the New York Review of Books.
June 5, 2014: RPF member Neil Ericsson participated in the presentation to our friend, Sir David Hendry, of the “Impact Lifetime Achievement Award” from the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council. Congratulations Sir David!
May 30, 2014: The Financial Times summarized recent research by RPF member Prakash Lougani and Hites Ahir on the forecasting performance of economists in An Astonishing Record - of Complete Failure.
April 14, 2014: RPF member Prakash Lougani posted a blog on voxeu (joint with Hites Ahir) entitled ""There will be growth in the spring": How well do economists predict turning points?" (Spoiler alert - the answer is, in a very understated fashion, "the ability of forecasters to predict turning points appears limited.")
March 17, 2014: Tara Sinclair and Herman Stekler were cited in an article in the German newspaper, the Handelsblatt, regarding a forecasting competition in Germany for 2013.
Spring, 2013: We are now recording our seminars and posting the video online. To see the videos available, go to our Past Presentations page.
January 31, 2013: Tara Sinclair appears on BizAsia America speaking on the 2012 U.S. economy and it's slightly shrinking GDP, and what's to come in the coming year.
December 19, 2012: Tara Sinclair appears on BizAsia America discussing the prospects of the fiscal cliff debate and offering suggestions on how the US might get out of its economic hole.
August 18, 2011: Fred Joutz was on the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer on CNN.
August 18, 2011: Here is a video abstract of a paper by Tara M. Sinclair, H.O. Stekler, and Lindsay Kitzinger, published in Applied Economics, that was first circulated as RPF Working Paper No. 2006-002.
September 6, 2010: Tara Sinclair appeared on C-Span Washington Journal regarding the US labor market situation honoring Labor Day.
July 6, 2010: Tara Sinclair was interviewed by Fox Business about the probability of a double-dip recession.
Other Recent Press
August 15, 2013: RPF member Prakash Loungani and RPF Working Paper No. 2011-005: "Economic Forecasting in the Great Recession," by H.O. Stekler and Raj. M. Talwar were both quoted a money.usnews.com article, "The Stock Market 'Prediction Charade".
May 29, 2013: RPF member Prakash Loungani has a post putting together his writing of the last several months on unemployment: Tackling Unemployment: Return of the Two-Handed Approach
April 10, 2013: Andrew Martinez's working paper, “Comparing Government Forecasts of the United States‟ Gross Federal Debt,” was cited in an article about budget predictions in the National Journal. Tara Sinclair was also quoted in the article.
August 17, 2011: Tara Sinclair was quoted in a New York Times article regarding research based on her work with H.O. Stekler, RPF Working Paper No. 2011-001: “Differences in Early GDP Component Estimates Between Recession and Expansions.”
August 2, 2011: Tara Sinclair analyzes the agreement and the broader U.S. debt problem in a Q&A for GW Today.
April 6, 2009: A Bloomberg article discussed a working paper by Tara Sinclair.
August 17, 2008: The work presented by Prakash Loungani in our February brownbag was mentioned in the New York Times Magazine in an article about Nouriel Roubini:
"Recessions are signal events in any modern economy. And yet remarkably, the profession of economics is quite bad at predicting them. A recent study looked at "consensus forecasts" (the predictions of large groups of economists) that were made in advance of 60 different national recessions that hit around the world in the '90s: in 97 percent of the cases, the study found, the economists failed to predict the coming contraction a year in advance. On those rare occasions when economists did successfully predict recessions, they significantly underestimated the severity of the downturns. Worse, many of the economists failed to anticipate recessions that occurred as soon as two months later."
"He sounded like a madman in 2006," recalls the I.M.F. economist Prakash Loungani, who invited [Nouriel] Roubini [to the IMF] on both occasions.
"He was a prophet when he returned in 2007."
Prakash Loungani blogs on the excessive smoothness of forecasts for RGE Monitor:
"Think about it this way: what use is a weather forecaster who never calls for rain until both you and he can look out of the window and see that it is indeed raining? A weather forecaster is doing his job if he does call, every now and then, for rain ahead of time, even at the risk of being wrong and annoying his clients for making them carry an umbrella around or rescheduling outdoor tennis matches when they didn’t have to. A weather forecast that bounces around can be annoying but it may also be a sign of the forecaster taking his job seriously."
Recent Expert Testimony
Fred Joutz testified in a hearing held by the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) to examine the state of the global energy markets and the impact of sustained high oil prices on the U.S. economy.
Recently there has been much discussion about the term spread as a cyclical indicator. Two of our members, Bryan L. Boulier and H.O. Stekler, have previously investigated this question. Their papers are here:
“The Term Spread as a Cyclical Indicator: A Forecasting Evaluation” by B.L. Boulier and H.O. Stekler, is now published in Applied Financial Economics Vol. 11(4), August 2001: 403-409.
“The Term Spread as a Monthly Cyclical Indicator: An Evaluation” by B.L. Boulier and H.O. Stekler, is now published in Economics Letters Vol. 66(1), January 2000: 79-83.
“Are the Fed’s Inflation Forecasts Still Superior to the Private Sector’s?” by Edward N. Gamber and Julie K. Smith, RPF Working Paper No. 2007-002, is now forthcoming in the Journal of Macroeconomics.
"Economic Forecasts: Too Smooth By Far?" by Prakash Loungani and Jair Rodriguez in now published in World Economics.
Summary: Will the U.S. economy go into a recession? Will other countries “decouple” from the United States? To those turning to private sector economic forecasters for guidance on these questions, this article sounds a note of caution: the past performance of forecasters on these two questions leaves much to be desired. Few recessions have been forecast ahead of their arrival. Nor do forecasters take into account fully the dependence of economies on one another; we present evidence that the dependence on the U.S. economy of the other members of the G7 has been under-appreciated by forecasters in the past. In short, economies are coupled, but one country’s forecasters often seem to be decoupled from those in other countries.
"Directional Forecasts of GDP and Inflation: A Joint Evaluation With an Application to Federal Reserve Predictions" by Tara M. Sinclair, H.O. Stekler, and Lindsay Kitzinger is now forthcoming in Applied Economics.
"An Evaluation of the Forecasts of the Federal Reserve: A Pooled Approach" by Michael P. Clements, Fred Joutz, and Herman O. Stekler is now published in the Journal of Applied Econometrics 22(1), 121-136.
"Econometric Forecasting Models" presented by Fred Joutz at the 2006 Annual Meeting of the Middle Atlantic Actuarial Club, Inc..