Macroeconomic forecasting is incredibly difficult. The results from this paper suggest that the brainpower of the Fed’s 100 person economics team can predict 3 to 6 months out with a reasonable degree of success, but beyond that time horizon (e.g., 1-year), basic forecasting models perform just as well as the human experts. (see figure below).
We analyze forecasts of consumption, nonresidential investment, residential investment, government spending, exports, imports, inventories, gross domestic product, inflation, and unemployment prepared by the staff of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee from 1997 to 2008, called the Greenbooks…We find that Greenbook forecasts significantly outperform our benchmark forecasts for horizons less than one quarter ahead. However, by the one-year forecast horizon, typically at least one of our forecasting benchmarks performs as well as Greenbook forecasts…
Here is a key chart from the paper:
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