December 2020

Which Output Gap Estimates Are Stable in Real Time and Why?

Alessandro Barbarino, Travis J. Berge, Han Chen, and Andrea Stella


Output gaps that are estimated in real time can differ substantially from those estimated after the fact. We aim to understand the real-time instability of output gap estimates by comparing a suite of reduced-form models. We propose a new statistical decomposition and find that including a Okun’s law relationship improves real-time stability by alleviating the end-point problem. Models that include the unemployment rate also produce output gaps with relevant economic content. However, we find that no model of the output gap is clearly superior to the others along each metric we consider.

Keywords: Output gap; real-time data; trend-cycle decomposition; unobserved components model


PDF: Full Paper

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Last Update: December 18, 2020