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:
The results are hypothetical results and are NOT an indicator of future results and do NOT represent returns that any investor actually attained. Indexes are unmanaged, do not reflect management or trading fees, and one cannot invest directly in an index. Additional information regarding the construction of these results is available upon request.
After serving as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps, Dr. Gray earned an MBA and a PhD in finance from the University of Chicago where he studied under Nobel Prize Winner Eugene Fama. Next, Wes took an academic job in his wife’s hometown of Philadelphia and worked as a finance professor at Drexel University. Dr. Gray’s interest in bridging the research gap between academia and industry led him to found Alpha Architect, an asset management firm dedicated to an impact mission of empowering investors through education. He is a contributor to multiple industry publications and regularly speaks to professional investor groups across the country. Wes has published multiple academic papers and four books, including Embedded (Naval Institute Press, 2009), Quantitative Value (Wiley, 2012), DIY Financial Advisor (Wiley, 2015), and Quantitative Momentum (Wiley, 2016).
Dr. Gray currently resides in Palmas Del Mar Puerto Rico with his wife and three children. He recently finished the Leadville 100 ultramarathon race and promises to make better life decisions in the future.
Performance figures contained herein are hypothetical, unaudited and prepared by Alpha Architect, LLC; hypothetical results are intended for illustrative purposes only. Past performance is not indicative of future results, which may vary. There is a risk of substantial loss associated with trading stocks, commodities, futures, options and other financial instruments. Full disclosures here.