Dynamic Factor Models and Forecasting Finnish Macroeconomic Variables

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Title: Dynamic Factor Models and Forecasting Finnish Macroeconomic Variables
Author: Fornaro, Paolo
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, Politiikan ja talouden tutkimuksen laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political and Economic Studies
Helsingfors universitet, Statsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för politik och ekonomi
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2011
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201703271698
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Economics
Abstract: In recent years, thanks to developments in information technology, large-dimensional datasets have been increasingly available. Researchers now have access to thousands of economic series and the information contained in them can be used to create accurate forecasts and to test economic theories. To exploit this large amount of information, researchers and policymakers need an appropriate econometric model.Usual time series models, vector autoregression for example, cannot incorporate more than a few variables. There are two ways to solve this problem: use variable selection procedures or gather the information contained in the series to create an index model. This thesis focuses on one of the most widespread index model, the dynamic factor model (the theory behind this model, based on previous literature, is the core of the first part of this study), and its use in forecasting Finnish macroeconomic indicators (which is the focus of the second part of the thesis). In particular, I forecast economic activity indicators (e.g. GDP) and price indicators (e.g. consumer price index), from 3 large Finnish datasets. The first dataset contains a large series of aggregated data obtained from the Statistics Finland database. The second dataset is composed by economic indicators from Bank of Finland. The last dataset is formed by disaggregated data from Statistic Finland, which I call micro dataset. The forecasts are computed following a two steps procedure: in the first step I estimate a set of common factors from the original dataset. The second step consists in formulating forecasting equations including the factors extracted previously. The predictions are evaluated using relative mean squared forecast error, where the benchmark model is a univariate autoregressive model. The results are dataset-dependent. The forecasts based on factor models are very accurate for the first dataset (the Statistics Finland one), while they are considerably worse for the Bank of Finland dataset. The forecasts derived from the micro dataset are still good, but less accurate than the ones obtained in the first case. This work leads to multiple research developments. The results here obtained can be replicated for longer datasets. The non-aggregated data can be represented in an even more disaggregated form (firm level). Finally, the use of the micro data, one of the major contributions of this thesis, can be useful in the imputation of missing values and the creation of flash estimates of macroeconomic indicator (nowcasting).
Subject: forecasting
factor model
large datasets
micro data

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