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Correcting the January optimism effect

Philip Hans Franses

Journal of Forecasting, 2020, vol. 39, issue 6, 927-933

Abstract: Each month, various professional forecasters give forecasts for next year's real gross domestic product (GDP) growth and unemployment. January is a special month, when the forecast horizon moves to the following calendar year. Instead of deleting the January data when analyzing forecast updates, I propose a periodic version of a test regression for weak‐form efficiency. An application of this periodic model for many forecasts across a range of countries shows that in January GDP forecast updates are positive, whereas the forecast updates for unemployment are negative. I document that this January optimism about the new calendar year is detrimental to forecast accuracy. To empirically analyze Okun's law, I also propose a periodic test regression, and its application provides more support for this law.

Date: 2020
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