The FOMC versus the Staff: Do Policymakers Add Value in Their Tales?
74 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2023
Date Written: August 30, 2023
Using close to 40 years of textual data from FOMC transcripts and the Federal Reserve staff's Greenbook/Tealbook, we extend Romer and Romer (2008) to test if the FOMC adds information relative to its staff forecasts not via its own quantitative forecasts but via its words. We use methods from natural language processing to extract from both types of document text-based forecasts that capture attentiveness to and sentiment about the macroeconomy. We test whether these text-based forecasts provide value-added in explaining the distribution of outcomes for GDP growth, the unemployment rate, and inflation. We find that FOMC tales about macroeconomic risks do add value in the tails, especially for GDP growth and the unemployment rate. For inflation, we find value-added in both FOMC point forecasts and narrative, once we extract from the text a broader set of measures of macroeconomic sentiment and risk attentiveness.
Keywords: monetary policy, sentiment, uncertainty, risk, forecast evaluation, FOMC meetings, textual analysis, machine learning, quantile regression
JEL Classification: E17, E31, E52, E58
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