Economic Forecasting

Economic Forecasting aims to predict or anticipate future economic situations.

Author: Chadi Kattoua
Chadi Kattoua
Chadi Kattoua
I hold a Master's in Business Data Analytics and a Bachelor's in Finance. I serve as a Techno-Functional Consultant within financial technology, specializing in delivering comprehensive solutions for banks in trade finance and associated software platforms. Concurrently, I contribute as a part-time Data Scientist and Data Strategy Consultant. Additionally, my skill set encompasses a solid background in financial research analysis, further enhancing my capabilities in the dynamic intersection of finance and technology.
Reviewed By: Patrick Curtis
Patrick Curtis
Patrick Curtis
Private Equity | Investment Banking

Prior to becoming our CEO & Founder at Wall Street Oasis, Patrick spent three years as a Private Equity Associate for Tailwind Capital in New York and two years as an Investment Banking Analyst at Rothschild.

Patrick has an MBA in Entrepreneurial Management from The Wharton School and a BA in Economics from Williams College.

Last Updated:October 27, 2023

What Is Economic Forecasting?

By utilizing a variety of economic factors and indicators, Economic Forecasting aims to predict or anticipate future economic situations. The statistical methods of predicting, which leverage variables, their relationships to one another, and their relationships to the entire economy, are the foundation of economic forecasting.

Economic projections are used by both company and government leaders to decide on future monetary and fiscal policies as well as to schedule operational activity.

Private-sector economists sometimes make incorrect predictions due to the difficulties and subjective human behavioral factors of economic forecasting.

The goal is often to estimate the future growth rate of the gross domestic product (GDP). Among the key economic indicators are inflation, interest rates, industrial production, consumer confidence, worker productivity, retail sales, and unemployment rates.

GDP is a gauge of an economy's overall output of goods and services across time. It is frequently used as a stand-in for economic riches since a more productive economy is regarded as wealthier.

Investors, corporations, governments, and economists regard the GDP growth rate as a key indicator. The anticipated GDP growth that governments announce affects decision-making among stakeholders.

Since business managers use economic projections as a reference to schedule upcoming operational tasks, private sector enterprises could have internal economists who concentrate on projections most relevant to their particular industry. 

As an alternative, they may turn to Wall Street analysts who are affiliated with consulting.

Government officials must be aware of what the future holds to choose the best fiscal and monetary policies to pursue. 

Government economists who work for the federal, state, or municipal governments are essential in assisting decision-makers in establishing spending and tax parameters.

Investors also use forecasts for GDP growth to guide their choices. Investors could feel more at ease investing in riskier assets if the projections are pleasing, whereas they might be more cautious with their asset allocation if the projections are bad.

Economic Forecasting Indicators

A given economy will provide indicators, which are specific data points about the economy. The indicators are related to the economic cycle, being its current status. Indicators come in two varieties:

1. Lagging Indicators

A lagging indicator is a measurable economic variable that alters considerably after an actual change has been noticed.

The state of an economy's business cycle can be determined via lagging indicators. They are used by people, companies, and the government to help them make wise decisions. They are also used to determine the general trends.

The growth rate of gross domestic product or GDP, unemployment rate, corporate income, trade balance index, index of consumer prices, and regional bank interest rates are some of the lagging indicators.

2. Precursor (Leading) Indicators

This type is a measurably changing economic variable that occurs before a change in the actual is noticed.

Leading indicators are used to forecast when the cycle may change and other important events that might happen and lead to a noticeable change. 

Since they are the primary inputs into the statistical models used to anticipate economic conditions, leading indicators are crucial for accurate forecasting.

It should be emphasized that the data points are historical, and previous events do not always predict future events. Since they do not always give precise information, leading indicators are nonetheless frequently employed by people, corporations, and governmental organizations.

Future profit growth can be anticipated to be lower. It will likely have a negative effect on the actual economy in the future since it appears that overall corporate capital expenditures are declining.

Employment claims, capital expenditures for businesses, index of purchasing managers, index of consumer confidence, sales, yield curve, and productivity at work are some of the leading indicators.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Economic Forecasting

Forecasting an economy's future has several benefits, including the following:

1. Gain Insight

The fundamental advantage of forecasting is that it allows you to see potential future scenarios. If the prediction indicates that your sales will expand, this enables you to plan for the resources you will need, such as additional inventory.

2. Learn From Past Errors

Since forecasting examines historical data, you may utilize it to identify any errors the organization may have made.

For instance, if your most recent hiring event did not go well, you may speculate that it was because the unemployment rate was low, so you decided to hold off until it rose.

3. Planning With Knowledge

Forecasting is helpful for any firm since it enables preparation for the future. To boost efficiency and income, businesses may make judgments on processes.

4. Cost Savings 

Forecasting can save you money if you operate in manufacturing since it helps you foresee customer demand. This guarantees you generate the appropriate amount, saving resources on extra items.

It is crucial to be aware of the drawbacks of the procedure if you are thinking about using forecasting techniques at work. Here are a few drawbacks to forecasting:

1. Additional Expense

Employing an economist might be expensive if you work for a small business. Alternatively, you may consider working with a freelance economist on particular tasks

2. Lack of Accuracy

It is impossible for forecasting to be 100 percent correct since it is a prediction. Since economists cannot foresee every risk, the projection might be incorrect if something unexpected happens, such as an oil shortage.

3. Time-consuming

Forecasting can take economists a lot of time. Instantaneous findings are often not attainable since they conduct a great deal of study, gather data, and evaluate it.

Economic Forecasting Methods

The process of forecasting entails creating predictions based on historical and current data. When predicting the economy, a few different techniques are used.

Regression Methods

A. Multivariate 

Model the causal link between a and b to make future estimates. C can predict using time series or cross-sectional data.

Bt = f (At)


Bt = f (A1t, .., Akt, B2t, ..,B1k)

Methods: System equation models, several simple models, and models that appear to be unrelated

B. Univariate 

Using internal data patterns from the past to predict the future.

Bt+1 = f (Bt), (Bt-1), (Bt-2) and (Bt-3)

Methods: Smoothing, exponential smoothing, moving average, seasonal and trend decomposition (which are two types of decomposition), and ARIMA (box-Jenkins) (box-Jenkins).

Qualitative Methods

Binary variables are used in qualitative forecasting methods to describe the information that influences choices. Such information is known as qualitative data. 

Regression models using yes-or-no-type dependent variables are referred to as dichotomous or dummy dependent variable models.

Other qualitative forecasting techniques rely on the perceptions and views of others, for example, about potential trends, preferences, and technical advancements.

Delphi, market research, panel consensus, scenario analysis, and methods of future prediction using historical analogies are examples of qualitative methodologies. 

Qualitative methods are helpful when there is not enough information to justify a quantitative technique.

Economic Data

Economic data gauges the prosperity or health of the economy of a nation, an area, or a market. It is frequently given in comparison to earlier measurements. In addition to enhancing other types of financial data, this information is utilized to expand financial research.

Given these types of data:

1. Primary and Secondary

Primary data are those that come directly from the source: 

The majority of data in the natural sciences are gathered through the execution of experiments in a lab setting under a controlled environment, where the researchers choose variables in accordance with their theoretical framework.

As a result, researchers frequently control the data's quality. Researchers in the social sciences, especially in economics, cannot generate their data through laboratory trials. They must rely on the information gathered by authorities or organizations.

Secondary data are those that have been gathered by a different party. Social scientists cannot afford to discard the data if they do not achieve an acceptable level of quality. 

2. Macro and Micro

Macroeconomic statistics, such as the GDP, implicit price deflator, interest rate, unemployment rate, money supply, etc., are highly aggregated data that measure the activity of the economy as a whole.

Microeconomic data are disaggregated statistics that track a specific household, factor, company, or industry's economic activities.

3. Low and High Frequency

The majority of economic statistics are gathered over a defined period of time. The discrete interval's length categorizes measurements as yearly, semiannual, quarterly, monthly, weekly, or daily data. 

Low-frequency data are those acquired over longer time periods and disseminated less often. More occurring data is called hourly, daily, or weekly data. 

All other data are referred to as historical data, while real-time data reflects events as they are happening.

4. Quantitative and Qualitative

Quantitative data are economic statistics that include a number for each economic unit and are described as prior data sets. When categorizing a set of facts like "yes" or "no," "good" or "bad," "male" or "female," or others.

These data are categorized as qualitative data. When there are options involved, such facts frequently come up in economics. 

We may give 1 = "yes" and 0 = "no" when we translate these four qualitative traits into numerical information. Dummy (or binary) variables can only accept the numeric values 1 and 0 as their values.

5. Cross-sectional Data and Time-series Data

A time series is a group of observations made in chronological order over space and time. Numerous "frequencies" can be used to observe time series data. Data is often released on a yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily basis. 

The use of minute-by-minute and even second-by-second data in financial research is widespread.

Cross-sectional data are observations made from several economic units over a certain period. These units might be businesses, elements, teams, individuals, places, provinces, nations, etc.

Researched and authored by Chadi Kattoua | LinkedIn

Free Resources 

To continue learning and advancing your career, check out these additional helpful WSO resources: