Paper # Author Title
Despite the clear success of forecast combination in many economic environments, several important issues remain incompletely resolved. The issues relate to selection of the set of forecasts to combine, and whether some form of additional regularization (e.g., shrinkage) is desirable. Against this background, and also considering the frequently-found superiority of simple-average combinations, we propose LASSO-based procedures that select and shrink toward equal combining weights. We then provide an empirical assessment of the performance of our "egalitarian LASSO" procedures. The results indicate that simple averages are highly competitive, and that although out-of-sample RMSE improvements on simple averages are possible in principle using our methods, they are hard to achieve in real time, due to the intrinsic difficulty of small-sample real-time cross validation of the LASSO tuning parameter. We therefore propose alternative direct combination procedures, most notably \best average" combination, motivated by the structure of egalitarian LASSO and the lessons learned, which do not require choice of a tuning parameter yet outperform simple averages. Download Paper
We use variance decompositions from high-dimensional vector autoregressions to characterize connectedness in 19 key commodity return volatilities, 2011-2016. We study both static (full-sample) and dynamic (rolling-sample) connectedness. We summarize and visualize the results using tools from network analysis. The results reveal clear clustering of commodities into groups that match traditional industry groupings, but with some notable differences. The energy sector is most important in terms of sending shocks to others, and energy, industrial metals, and precious metals are themselves tightly connected. Download Paper
We use lasso methods to shrink, select and estimate the network linking the publicly-traded subset of the world’s top 150 banks, 2003-2014. We characterize static network connectedness using full-sample estimation and dynamic network connectedness using rolling-window estimation. Statistically, we find that global banking connectedness is clearly linked to bank location, not bank assets. Dynamically, we find that global banking connectedness displays both secular and cyclical variation. The secular variation corresponds to gradual increases/decreases during episodes of gradual increases/decreases in global market integration. The cyclical variation corresponds to sharp increases during crises, involving mostly cross-country, as opposed to within-country, bank linkages. Download Paper
Recent work has analyzed the forecasting performance of standard dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models, but little attention has been given to DSGE models that incorporate nonlinearities in exogenous driving processes. Against that background, we explore whether incorporating stochastic volatility improves DSGE forecasts (point, interval, and density). We examine real-time forecast accuracy for key macroeconomic variables including output growth, inflation, and the policy rate. We find that incorporating stochastic volatility in DSGE models of macroeconomic fundamentals markedly improves their density forecasts, just as incorporating stochastic volatility in models of financial asset returns improves their density forecasts. Download Paper
We propose point forecast accuracy measures based directly on distance of the forecast-error c.d.f. from the unit step function at 0 (\stochastic error distance," or SED). We provide a precise characterization of the relationship between SED and standard predictive loss functions, showing that all such loss functions can be written as weighted SED's. The leading case is absolute-error loss, in which the SED weights are unity, establishing its primacy. Among other things, this suggests shifting attention away from conditional-mean forecasts and toward conditional-median forecasts. Download Paper
Using a connectedness-measurement technology fundamentally grounded in modern network theory, we measure real output connectedness for a set of six developed countries, 1962-2010. We show that global connectedness is sizable and time-varying over the business cycle, and we study the nature of the time variation relative to the ongoing discussion about the changing nature of the global business cycle. We also show that connectedness corresponding to transmissions to others from the United States and Japan is disproportionately important. Download Paper
We provide a new and superior measure of U.S. GDP, obtained by applying optimal signal-extraction techniques to the (noisy) expenditure-side and income-side estimates. Its properties - particularly as regards serial correlation - differ markedly from those of the standard expenditure-side measure and lead to substantially-revised views regarding the properties of GDP. Download Paper
I investigate Big Data, the phenomenon, the term, and the discipline, with emphasis on origins of the term, in industry and academics, in computer science and statistics/econometrics. Big Data the phenomenon continues unabated, Big Data the term is now firmly entrenched, and Big Data the discipline is emerging. Download Paper
I investigate the origins of the now-ubiquitous term ”Big Data," in industry and academics, in computer science and statistics/econometrics. Credit for coining the term must be shared. In particular, John Mashey and others at Silicon Graphics produced highly relevant (unpublished, non-academic) work in the mid-1990s. The first significant academic references (independent of each other and of Silicon Graphics) appear to be Weiss and Indurkhya (1998) in computer science and Diebold (2000) in statistics /econometrics. Douglas Laney of Gartner also produced insightful work (again unpublished and non-academic) slightly later. Big Data the term is now firmly entrenched, Big Data the phenomenon continues unabated, and Big Data the discipline is emerging. Download Paper
The Diebold-Mariano (DM) test was intended for comparing forecasts; it has been, and remains, useful in that regard. The DM test was not intended for comparing models. Unfortunately, however, much of the large subsequent literature uses DM-type tests for comparing models, in (pseudo-) out-of-sample environments. In that case, much simpler yet more compelling full-sample model comparison procedures exist; they have been, and should continue to be, widely used. The hunch that (pseudo-) out-of-sample analysis is somehow the “only," or “best," or even a “good" way to provide insurance against in-sample over fitting in model comparisons proves largely false. On the other hand, (pseudo-) out-of-sample analysis may be useful for learning about comparative historical predictive performance. Download Paper
We propose and illustrate a Markov-switching multi-fractal duration (MSMD) model for analysis of inter-trade durations in financial markets. We establish several of its key properties with emphasis on high persistence (indeed long memory). Empirical exploration suggests MSMD's superiority relative to leading competitors. Download Paper
Current practice largely follows restrictive approaches to market risk measurement, such as historical simulation or RiskMetrics. In contrast, we propose flexible methods that exploit recent developments in fi nancial econometrics and are likely to produce more accurate risk assessments, treating both portfolio-level and asset-level analysis. Asset-level analysis is particularly challenging because the demands of real-world risk management in financial institutions—in particular, real-time risk tracking in very high-dimensional situations—impose strict limits on model complexity. Hence we stress powerful yet parsimonious models that are easily estimated. In addition, we emphasize the need for deeper understanding of the links between market risk and macroeconomic fundamentals, focusing primarily on links among equity return volatilities, real growth, and real growth volatilities. Throughout, we strive not only to deepen our scienti c understanding of market risk, but also cross-fertilize the academic and practitioner communities, promoting improved market risk measurement technologies that draw on the best of both. Download Paper
We propose several connectedness measures built from pieces of variance decompositions, and we argue that they provide natural and insightful measures of connectedness among fi nancial asset returns and volatilities. We also show that variance decompositions defi ne weighted, directed networks, so that our connectedness measures are intimately-related to key measures of connectedness used in the network literature. Building on these insights, we track both average and daily time-varying connectedness of major U.S. financial institutions' stock return volatilities in recent years, including during the financial crisis of 2007-2008. Download Paper
Two often-divergent U.S. GDP estimates are available, a widely-used expenditure side version, GDPE, and a much less widely-used income-side version, GDPI . We propose and explore a "forecast combination" approach to combining them. We then put the theory to work, producing a superior combined estimate of GDP growth for the U.S., GDPC. We compare GDPC to GDPE and GDPI, with particular attention to behavior over the business cycle. We discuss several variations and extensions. Download Paper
We sketch a framework for monitoring macroeconomic activity in real-time and push it in new directions. In particular, we focus not only on real activity, which has received most attention to date, but also on inflation and its interaction with real activity. As for the recent recession, we find that (1) it likely ended around July 2009; (2) its most extreme aspects concern a real activity decline that was unusually long but less unusually deep, and an inflation decline that was unusually deep but brief; and (3) its real activity and inflation interactions were strongly positive, consistent with an adverse demand shock. Download Paper
We argue for incorporating the financial economics of market microstructure into the financial econometrics of asset return volatility estimation. In particular, we use market microstructure theory to derive the cross-correlation function between latent returns and market microstructure noise, which feature prominently in the recent volatility literature. The cross-correlation at zero displacement is typically negative, and cross-correlations at nonzero displacements are positive and decay geometrically. If market makers are sufficiently risk averse, however, the cross-correlation pattern is inverted. Our results are useful for assessing the validity of the frequently-assumed independence of latent price and microstructure noise, for explaining observed crosscorrelation patterns, for predicting as-yet undiscovered patterns, and for making informed conjectures as to improved volatility estimation methods. Download Paper
Notwithstanding its impressive contributions to empirical financial economics, there remains a significant gap in the volatility literature, namely its relative neglect of the connection between macroeconomic fundamentals and asset return volatility. We progress by analyzing a broad international cross section of stock markets covering approximately forty countries. We find a clear link between macroeconomic fundamentals and stock market volatilities, with volatile fundamentals translating into volatile stock markets. Download Paper
The Svensson generalization of the popular Nelson-Siegel term structure model is widely used by practitioners and central banks. Unfortunately, like the original Nelson-Siegel specification, this generalization, in its dynamic form, does not enforce arbitrage-free consistency over time. Indeed, we show that the factor loadings of the Svensson generalization cannot be obtained in a standard finance arbitrage-free affine term structure representation. Therefore, we introduce a closely related generalized Nelson-Siegel model on which the no-arbitrage condition can be imposed. We estimate this new arbitrage-free generalized Nelson-Siegel model and demonstrate its tractability and good in-sample fit. Download Paper
We construct a framework for measuring economic activity at high frequency, potentially in real time. We use a variety of stock and flow data observed at mixed frequencies (including very high frequencies), and we use a dynamic factor model that permits exact filtering. We illustrate the framework in a prototype empirical example and a simulation study calibrated to the example. Download Paper
The popular Nelson-Siegel (1987) yield curve is routinely fit to cross sections of intra-country bond yields, and Diebold and Li (2006) have recently proposed a dynamized version. In this paper we extend Diebold-Li to a global context, modeling a potentially large set of country yield curves in a framework that allows for both global and country-specific factors. In an empirical analysis of term structures of government bond yields for the Germany, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S., we find that global yield factors do indeed exist and are economically important, generally explaining significant fractions of country yield curve dynamics, with interesting differences across countries. Download Paper
We derive the class of arbitrage-free affine dynamic term structure models that approximate the widely-used Nelson-Siegel yield-curve specification. Our theoretical analysis relates this new class of models to the canonical representation of the three-factor arbitrage-free affine model. Our empirical analysis shows that imposing the Nelson-Siegel structure on this canonical representation greatly improves its empirical tractability; furthermore, we find that improvements in predictive performance are achieved from the imposition of absence of arbitrage. Download Paper
We construct a framework for measuring economic activity in real time (e.g., minute-by-minute), using a variety of stock and flow data observed at mixed frequencies.  Specifcally, we propose a dynamic factor model that permits exact filtering, and we explore the efficacy of our methods both in a simulation study and in a detailed empirical example. Download Paper
We provide a simple and intuitive measure of interdependence of asset returns and/or volatilities. In particular, we formulate and examine precise and separate measures of return spillovers and volatility spillovers. Our framework facilitates study of both non-crisis and crisis episodes, including trends and bursts in spillovers, and  both turn out to be empirically important. In particular, in an analysis of sixteen global equity markets from the early 1990s to the present, we find striking evidence of divergent behavior in the dynamics of return spillovers vs. volatility spillovers: Return spillovers display a gently increasing trend but no bursts, whereas volatility spillovers display no trend but clear bursts. Download Paper
We assess and apply the term-structure model introduced by Nelson and Siegel (1987) and re-interpreted by Diebold and Li (2003) as a modern three-factor model of level, slope and curvature. First, we ask whether the model is a member of the affine class, and we find that it is not. Hence the poor forecasting performance recently documented for affine term structure models in no way implies that our model will forecast poorly, which is consistent with Diebold and Li's (2003) finding that it indeed forecasts quite well. Next, having clarified the relationship between our three-factor model and the affine class, we proceed to assess its adequacy directly, by testing whether its level, slope and curvature factors do indeed capture systematic risk. We find that they do, and that they are therefore priced. Finally, confident in the ability of our three-factor model to capture the pricing relations present in the data, we proceed to explore its efficacy in bond portfolio risk management. Traditional Macaulay duration is appropriate only in a one-factor (level) context; hence we move to a three-factor generalized duration, and we show the superior performance of hedges constructed using it. Download Paper
Recent theoretical work has revealed a direct connection between asset return volatility forecastability and asset return sign forecastability. This suggests that the pervasive volatility forecastability in equity returns could, via induced sign forecastability, be used to produce direction-of change forecasts useful for market timing. We attempt to do so in an international sample of developed equity markets, with some success, as assessed by formal probability forecast scoring rules such as the Brier score. An important ingredient is our conditioning not only on conditional mean and variance information, but also conditional skewness and kurtosis information, when forming direction-of-change forecasts. Download Paper
We explore the macro/finance interface in the context of equity markets. In particular, using half a century of Livingston expected business conditions data we characterize directly the impact of expected business conditions on expected excess stock returns. Expected business conditions consistently affect expected excess returns in a statistically and economically significant counter-cyclical fashion: depressed expected business conditions are associated with high expected excess returns. Moreover, inclusion of expected business conditions in otherwise standard predictive return regressions substantially reduces the explanatory power of the conventional financial predictors, including the dividend yield, default premium, and term premium, while simultaneously increasing R2 . Expected business conditions retain predictive power even after controlling for an important and recently introduced non-financial predictor, the generalized consumption/wealth ratio, which accords with the view that expected business conditions play a role in asset pricing different from and complementary to that of the consumption/wealth ratio. We argue that time-varying expected business conditions likely capture time-varying risk, while time-varying consumption/wealth may capture time-varying risk Download Paper
Volatility has been one of the most active and successful areas of research in time series econometrics and economic forecasting in recent decades. This chapter provides a selective survey of the most important theoretical developments and empirical insights to emerge from this burgeoning literature, with a distinct focus on forecasting applications. Volatility is inherently latent, and Section 1 begins with a brief intuitive account of various key volatility concepts. Section 2 then discusses a series of different economic situations in which volatility plays a crucial role, ranging from the use of volatility forecasts in portfolio allocation to density forecasting in risk management. Sections 3, 4 and 5 present a variety of alternative procedures for univariate volatility modeling and forecasting based on the GARCH, stochastic volatility and realized volatility paradigms, respectively. Section 6 extends the discussion to the multivariate problem of forecasting conditional covariances and correlations, and Section 7 discusses volatility forecast evaluation methods in both univariate and multivariate cases. Section 8 concludes briefly. Download Paper
We selectively survey, unify and extend the literature on realized volatility of financial asset returns. Rather than focusing exclusively on characterizing the properties of realized volatility, we progress by examining economically interesting functions of realized volatility, namely realized betas for equity portfolios, relating them both to their underlying realized variance and covariance parts and to underlying macroeconomic fundamentals. Download Paper
From a macroeconomic perspective, the short-term interest rate is a policy instrument under the direct control of the central bank. From a finance perspective, long rates are risk-adjusted averages of expected future short rates. Thus, as illustrated by much recent research, a joint macro-finance modeling strategy will provide the most comprehensive understanding of the term structure of interest rates. We discuss various questions that arise in this research, and we also present a new examination of the relationship between two prominent dynamic, latent factor models in this literature: the Nelson-Siegel and affine no-arbitrage term structure models. Download Paper
What do academics have to offer market risk management practitioners in financial institutions? Current industry practice largely follows one of two extremely restrictive approaches: historical simulation or RiskMetrics. In contrast, we favor flexible methods based on recent developments in financial econometrics, which are likely to produce more accurate assessments of market risk. Clearly, the demands of real-world risk management in financial institutions - in particular, real-time risk tracking in very high-dimensional situations - impose strict limits on model complexity. Hence we stress parsimonious models that are easily estimated, and we discuss a variety of practical approaches for high-dimensional covariance matrix modeling, along with what we see as some of the pitfalls and problems in current practice. In so doing we hope to encourage further dialog between the academic and practitioner communities, hopefully stimulating the development of improved market risk management technologies that draw on the best of both worlds. Download Paper
We characterize the response of U.S., German and British stock, bond and foreign exchange markets to real-time U.S. macroeconomic news. Our analysis is based on a unique data set of high frequency futures returns for each of the markets. We find that news surprises produce conditional mean jumps; hence high-frequency stock, bond and exchange rate dynamics are linked to fundamentals. The details of the linkages are particularly intriguing as regards equity markets. We show that equity markets react differently to the same news depending on the state of the economy, with bad news having a positive impact during expansions and the traditionally-expected negative impact during recessions. We rationalize this by temporal variation in the competing "cash flow" and "discount rate" effects for equity valuation. This finding helps explain the time-varying correlation between stock and bond returns, and the relatively small equity market news effect when averaged across expansions and recessions. Lastly, relying on the pronounced heteroskedasticity in the high-frequency data, we document important contemporaneous linkages across all markets and countries over-and-above the direct news announcement effects. Download Paper
A large literature over several decades reveals both extensive concern with the question of time-varying betas and an emerging consensus that betas are in fact time-varying, leading to the prominence of the conditional CAPM. Set against that background, we assess the dynamics in realized betas, vis-à-vis the dynamics in the underlying realized market variance and individual equity covariances with the market. Working in the recently-popularized framework of realized volatility, we are led to a framework of nonlinear fractional cointegration: although realized variances and covariances are very highly persistent and well approximated as fractionally-integrated, realized betas, which are simple nonlinear functions of those realized variances and covariances, are less persistent and arguably best modeled as stationary I(0) processes. We conclude by drawing implications for asset pricing and portfolio management. Download Paper
Engle's footsteps range widely. His major contributions include early work on band-spectral regression, development and unification of the theory of model specification tests (particularly Lagrange multiplier tests), clarification of the meaning of econometric exogeneity and its relationship to causality, and his later stunningly influential work on common trend modeling (cointegration) and volatility modeling (ARCH, short for AutoRegressive Conditional Heteroskedasticity). More generally, Engle's cumulative work is a fine example of best-practice applied time-series econometrics: he identifies important dynamic economic phenomena, formulates precise and interesting questions about those phenomena, constructs sophisticated yet simple econometric models for measurement and testing, and consistently obtains results of widespread substantive interest in the scientific, policy, and financial communities. Download Paper
We consider three sets of phenomena that feature prominently - and separately - in the financial economics literature: conditional mean dependence (or lack thereof) in asset returns, dependence (and hence forecastability) in asset return signs, and dependence (and hence forecastability) in asset return volatilities. We show that they are very much interrelated, and we explore the relationships in detail. Among other things, we show that: (a) Volatility dependence produces sign dependence, so long as expected returns are nonzero, so that one should expect sign dependence, given the overwhelming evidence of volatility dependence; (b) The standard finding of little or no conditional mean dependence is entirely consistent with a significant degree of sign dependence and volatility dependence; (c) Sign dependence is not likely to be found via analysis of sign autocorrelations, runs tests, or traditional market timing tests, because of the special nonlinear nature of sign dependence; (d) Sign dependence is not likely to be found in very high-frequency (e.g., daily) or very low-frequency (e.g., annual) returns; instead, it is more likely to be found at intermediate return horizons; (e) Sign dependence is very much present in actual U.S. equity returns, and its properties match closely our theoretical predictions; (f) The link between volatility forecastability and sign forecastability remains intact in conditionally non-Gaussian environments, as for example with time-varying conditional skewness and/or kurtosis. Download Paper
A rapidly growing literature has documented important improvements in volatility measurement and forecasting performance through the use of realized volatilities constructed from high frequency returns coupled with relatively simple reduced-form time series modeling procedures. Building on recent theoretical results from Barndorff-Nielsen and Shephard (2003c,d) for related bi-power variation measures involving the sum of high- frequency absolute returns, the present paper provides a practical framework for non-parametrically measuring the jump component in realized volatility measurements. Exploiting these ideas for a decade of high-frequency five-minute returns for the DM/$ exchange rate, the S&P 500 market index, and the 30-year U.S. Treasury bond yield, we find the jump component of the price process to be distinctly less persistent than the continuous sample path component. Explicitly including the jump measure as an additional explanatory variable in an easy-to implement reduced form model for realized volatility results in highly significant jump coefficient estimates at the daily, weekly and quarterly forecast horizons. As such, our results hold promise for improved financial asset allocation, risk management, and derivatives pricing, by separate modeling, forecasting and pricing of the continuous and jump components of total return variability. Download Paper