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The International Finance Discussion Papers logo links to the International Finance Discussion Papers home page Bayesian Model Averaging and Exchange Rate Forecasts
Jonathan H. Wright
2003-779  (September 2003)

Abstract:  Exchange rate forecasting is hard and the seminal result of Meese and Rogoff (1983) that the exchange rate is well approximated by a driftless random walk, at least for prediction purposes, has never really been overturned despite much effort at constructing other forecasting models. However, in several other macro and financial forecasting applications, researchers in recent years have considered methods for forecasting that combine the information in a large number of time series. One method that has been found to be remarkably useful for out-of-sample prediction is simple averaging of the forecasts of different models. This often seems to work better than the forecasts from any one model. Bayesian Model Averaging is a closely related method that has also been found to be useful for out-of-sample prediction. This starts out with many possible models and prior beliefs about the probability that each model is the true one. It then involves computing the posterior probability that each model is the true one, and averages the forecasts from the different models, weighting them by these posterior probabilities. This is effectively a shrinkage methodology, but with shrinkage over models not just over parameters. I apply this Bayesian Model Averaging approach to pseudo-out-of-sample exchange rate forecasting over the last ten years. I find that it compares quite favorably to a driftless random walk forecast. Depending on the currency-horizon pair, the Bayesian Model Averaging forecasts sometimes do quite a bit better than the random walk benchmark (in terms of mean square prediction error), while they never do much worse. The forecasts generated by this model averaging methodology are however very close to (but not identical to) those from the random walk forecast.

Full paper (318 KB PDF)

Shrinkage, model uncertainty, forecasting, exchange rates, bootstrap

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