08 June 2005
Business Cycles in the New EU Member Countries and their Conformity with the Euro Area
We analyse the evolution of the business cycle in the new EU member countries, after a careful examination of the seasonal properties of the available series and the required modification of the cycle dating procedures. We then focus on the degree of cyclical concordance within the group of new EU member countries, which turns out to be in general lower than that between the EU-15 countries (the Baltic countries constitute an exception). With respect to the euro area, the indications of synchronization are also generally low and lower relative to the position obtaining for countries taking part in previous enlargements (with the exceptions of Poland, Slovenia and Hungary).
08 June 2005
Towards a Monthly Business Cycle Chronology for the Euro Area
This paper is an exercise in dating the Euro area business cycle on a monthly basis. Using a quite flexible interpolation routine, we construct several monthly series of Euro area real GDP, and then apply the Bry-Boschan (1971) procedure. To account for the asymmetry in growth regimes and duration across business cycle phases, we propose to extend this method with a combined amplitude/phase-length criterion ruling out expansionary phases that are short and flat. Applying the extended procedure to US and Euro area data, we are able to replicate approximately the dating decisions of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR).
08 June 2005
Out-of-sample Performance of Leading Indicators for the German Business Cycle
In this paper the forecasting performance of popular leading indicators for the German business cycle is investigated. Survey based indicators (ifo business climate, ZEW index of economic sentiment) and composite leading indicators (Handelsblatt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Commerzbank) are considered. The analysis points to a significant relationship of the indicators to the business cycle within the sample period, as measured by the direction of causality. But, their out-of-sample forecasts do not improve the autoregressive benchmark. This result may be caused by structural breaks in the out-of-sample period. As combinations of forecasts tend to be more robust against such shifts, pooled forecasts are constructed using different methods of aggregation, including linear combinations of forecasts and common factor models. In contrast to the single indicator approach, the combined indicator forecasts are able to beat the benchmark at each forecasting horizon. Therefore, the analysis points to the usefulness of pooling information in order to get more reliable forecasts.
08 June 2005
Benchmarking Systems of Seasonally Adjusted Time Series
When a system of time series is seasonally adjusted, generally the accounting constraints originally linking the series are not fulfilled. To overcome this problem, we discuss an extension to a system of series linked by an accounting constraint of the classical univariate benchmarking procedure due to Denton (1971), which is founded on a movement preservation principle that is very relevant in this case. The presence of linear dependence between the variables makes it necessary to deal with the whole set of contemporaneous and temporal aggregation relationships. The cases of one-way classified (e.g., by regions or by industries) and of two-way classified (e.g., by regions and by industries) systems of series are studied. An empirical application to the Canadian retail trade series by province (12 series) and trade groups (18 series) is considered to show the capability of the proposed procedures.
08 June 2005
New Design of the ISAE Manufacturing Survey
This paper describes the new ISAE manufacturing survey design and its recent reengineering process. Three important goals have been reached: First, the underlying industrial structure for the aggregation of survey results is now based on the up-to-date NACE Rev. 1.1 classification (at the 3-digit level), adapted to take into consideration the structure of the Italian economy. Second, weights used in the aggregation have now been updated to the year 1999. Third, the weighting scheme is now based on a coherent system of firm-size weights, based on a four-stage method in which the firms' employees are used as weights to aggregate the firms' results for the balance of a question in each strata; then results for each strata are aggregated to calculate the total manufacturing, using updated value added weights (coming from an external source, ISTAT). As a consequence, the general quality of the ISAE survey data has strongly improved: Results are now more reliable at an international level and a full comparability between national, regional and firm-size level data is also ensured. Finally, historical data up to 1991 have been re-calculated according to the new aggregation scheme, in order to ensure intertemporal comparability of the data.