Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The taxman cometh: IMF Book Forum on Piketty’s Capital

The sales of Piketty’s book threaten to put him into the top 1% of earners. On tax day in the US, Piketty presented his book the IMF Book Forum (and Jobs & Growth Seminar). The event was chaired by George Akerlof and Martin Ravallion was the discussant. Here are the links to the slides by Ravallion and Piketty.

Piketty said "we live in a world where we have to rely on Forbes to know the wealth of billionaires. I would prefer to get these statistics from the IMF but apparently there isn't a publication on the distribution on income. Perhaps one day there will be."

“There will be growth in the spring”: How well do economists predict turning points?

Forecasters have a poor reputation for predicting recessions. This Vox column quantifies their ability to do so, and explores several reasons why both official and private forecasters may fail to call a recession before it happens.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Robert Barro doesn't look 70

My profile of one of my thesis advisors, Robert Barro, for whom the LSE held a major conference last week. Of all the profiles I've written I like this the best -- I think I knew the subject matter well and it shows. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

IMF Releases Independent Assessment of its Forecast Accuracy

The IMF’s independent evaluation office released its study of IMF Forecasts: Process, Quality, and Country Perspectives. It concludes that “the accuracy of IMF short-term forecasts is comparable to that of private forecasts. Both tend to over predict GDP growth significantly during regional or global recessions, as well as during crises in individual countries.” The study thus confirms the two main findings of my 2001 paper: first, “the record of failure to predict recessions is virtually unblemished,” as I wrote; second, a statistical horse race between private sector and official sector forecasts ends up in a photo finish. My recent work with Hites Ahir looks at the record of professional forecasters in predicting recessions over the period 2008-12, also confirming both findings. The figure shows the close correspondence between Consensus (private sector) and IMF forecasts.