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Mr. Allan Timmermann

This paper conducts a series of statistical tests to evaluate the quality of the World Economic Outlook (WEO) forecasts for a very large cross section of countries. It assesses whether forecasts were unbiased and informationally efficient, characterizes the process whereby WEO forecasts get revised as the predicted period draws closer, and compares the precision of the WEO forecasts to private sector forecasts known as “consensus forecasts” and published by Consensus Economics on a monthly basis. The results suggest that the performance of the WEO forecasts is similar to that of the consensus forecasts. IMF Staff Papers (2007) 54, 1–33. doi:10.1057/palgrave.imfsp.9450007

Mr. Allan Timmermann
The World Economic Outlook (WEO) is a key source of forecasts of global economic conditions. It is therefore important to review the performance of these forecasts against both actual outcomes and alternative forecasts. This paper conducts a series of statistical tests to evaluate the quality of the WEO forecasts for a very large cross section of countries, with particular emphasis on the recent recession and recovery. It assesses whether forecasts were unbiased and informationally efficient, and characterizes the process whereby WEO forecasts get revised as the time to the point of the forecast draws closer. Finally, the paper assess whether forecasts can be improved by combining WEO forecasts with the Consensus forecasts. The results suggest that the performance of the WEO forecasts is similar to that of the Consensus forecasts. While WEO forecasts for many variables in many countries meet basic quality standards in some, if not all, dimensions, the paper raises a number of concerns with current forecasting performance.
Mr. Allan Timmermann
Mr. Allan Timmermann

The World Economic Outlook (WEO) is a key source of forecasts of global economic conditions. It is therefore important to review the performance of these forecasts against both actual outcomes and alternative forecasts. This paper conducts a series of statistical tests to evaluate the quality of the WEO forecasts for a very large cross section of countries, with particular emphasis on the recent recession and recovery. It assesses whether forecasts were unbiased and informationally efficient, and characterizes the process whereby WEO forecasts get revised as the time to the point of the forecast draws closer. Finally, the paper assess whether forecasts can be improved by combining WEO forecasts with the Consensus forecasts. The results suggest that the performance of the WEO forecasts is similar to that of the Consensus forecasts. While WEO forecasts for many variables in many countries meet basic quality standards in some, if not all, dimensions, the paper raises a number of concerns with current forecasting performance.

Mr. Luis Catão and Mr. Allan Timmermann
A perennial question in international finance is to what extent stock returns are influenced by country-location, as opposed to industry-affiliation, factors. This paper develops a novel methodology to measure these effects, in which portfolios mimicking "pure" country and industry factors are first constructed and their joint dynamics then modeled as regime-switching processes. Estimation using global firm-level data allows us to identify well-defined volatility states over the past thirty years and shows that the contribution of the industry factor becomes systematically more prominent during high global volatility states, while the country factor contribution declines. Using the model's estimates, we find that portfolio diversification possibilities vary considerably across economic states.
Mr. Luis Catão and Mr. Allan Timmermann
Mr. Luis Catão and Mr. Allan Timmermann

A perennial question in international finance is to what extent stock returns are influenced by country-location, as opposed to industry-affiliation, factors. This paper develops a novel methodology to measure these effects, in which portfolios mimicking "pure" country and industry factors are first constructed and their joint dynamics then modeled as regime-switching processes. Estimation using global firm-level data allows us to identify well-defined volatility states over the past thirty years and shows that the contribution of the industry factor becomes systematically more prominent during high global volatility states, while the country factor contribution declines. Using the model's estimates, we find that portfolio diversification possibilities vary considerably across economic states.

Mr. Allan Timmermann, Mr. Luis Catão, and Mr. Marco Aiolfi
This paper constructs new business cycle indices for Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico based on common dynamic factors extracted from a comprehensive set of sectoral output, external data, and fiscal and financial variables spanning over a century. The constructed indices are used to derive a business cycle chronology for these countries and characterize a set of new stylized facts. In particular, we show that all four countries have historically displayed a striking combination of high business cycle and persistence relative to benchmark countries, and that such volatility has been time-varying, with important differences across policy regimes. We also uncover a sizeable common factor across the four economies which has greatly limited scope for regional risk sharing.
Mr. Allan Timmermann, Mr. Luis Catão, and Mr. Marco Aiolfi
Mr. Allan Timmermann, Mr. Luis Catão, and Mr. Marco Aiolfi

This paper constructs new business cycle indices for Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico based on common dynamic factors extracted from a comprehensive set of sectoral output, external data, and fiscal and financial variables spanning over a century. The constructed indices are used to derive a business cycle chronology for these countries and characterize a set of new stylized facts. In particular, we show that all four countries have historically displayed a striking combination of high business cycle and persistence relative to benchmark countries, and that such volatility has been time-varying, with important differences across policy regimes. We also uncover a sizeable common factor across the four economies which has greatly limited scope for regional risk sharing.