The Power of Narratives in Economic Forecasts
54 Pages Posted: 14 May 2020
Date Written: January 3, 2020
We apply textual analysis tools to the narratives that accompany Federal Reserve Board economic forecasts to measure the degree of optimism versus pessimism expressed in those narratives. Text sentiment is strongly correlated with the accompanying economic point forecasts, positively for GDP forecasts and negatively for unemployment and inflation forecasts. Moreover, our sentiment measure predicts errors in FRB and private forecasts for GDP growth and unemployment up to four quarters out. Furthermore, stronger sentiment predicts tighter than expected monetary policy and higher future stock returns. Quantile regressions indicate that most of sentiment’s forecasting power arises from signaling downside risks to the economy and stock prices.
Keywords: Text analysis; Economic forecasts; Monetary policy; Stock returns; Narratives
JEL Classification: C53; E17; E27; E37; E52; G14
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