Forecasting macro variables with a Qual VAR business cycle turning point index
One criticism of Vector Autoregression (VAR) forecasting is that macroeconomic variables tend not to behave as linear functions of their own past around business cycle turning points. A large amount of literature therefore focuses on nonlinear forecasting models, such as Markov switching models, which only indirectly capture the relation with turning points. This article investigates a direct approach to using information on turning points from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) chronology to model and forecast macroeconomic data. Our Qual VAR model includes a truncated normal latent business cycle index that is negative during NBER recessions and positive during expansions. We motivate our forecasting exercise by demonstrating that if starting from a linear specification, a truncated normal variable is an omitted variable, then forecasts of the remaining variables will become nonlinear functions of their own past. We apply the Qual VAR model to recursive out-of-sample forecasting and find that the Qual VAR improves on out-of-sample forecasts from a standard VAR.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2010-09-01