Rational Bias in Macroeconomic Forecasts
Federal Reserve Bank of New York Staff Reports No. 21
Posted: 10 Mar 1998
Date Written: March 1997
This paper develops a model of macroeconomic forecasting in which the wages firms pay their forecasters are a function of their accuracy as well as the publicity they generate for their employers by being correct. In the resulting Nash equilibrium, forecasters with identical models, information, and incentives nevertheless produce a variety of predictions in order to maximize their expected wages. In the case of heterogeneous incentives, the forecasters whose wages are most closely tied to publicity, as opposed to accuracy, produce the forecasts that deviate most from the consensus. We find empirical support for our model using a twenty-year panel of real GNP/GDP forecast data from the survey Blue Chip Economic Indicators. Although the consensus outperforms virtually every forecaster, many forecasters choose to deviate from it substantially and regularly. Moreover, the extent of this deviation varies by industry in a manner consistent with our model.
JEL Classification: D84, E17, L86
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation