Nowcasting UK GDP During the Depression

Paul Smith

Research output: Working paperDiscussion paper

32 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Nowcasting UK GDP during the Depression reviews the performance of several statistical techniques in nowcasting preliminary estimates of UK GDP, particularly during the recent depression. Traditional bridging equations, MIDAS regressions and factor models are all considered. While there are various theoretical differences and perceived advantages for each technique, replicated real-time out-ofsample testing shows that, in practice, there is in fact little to choose between methods in terms of end-of-period nowcasting accuracy. The analysis also reveals that none of the aforementioned statistical models can consistently beat a consensus of professional economists in nowcasting preliminary GDP estimates. This inability of statistical models to beat the consensus may reflect several factors, one of which is the revisions and re-appraisal of trends inherent in UK GDP statistics. The suggestion is that these changes impact on observed relationships between GDP and indicator variables such as business surveys, which impairs nowcasting performance. Indeed, using a synthetic series based purely on observed preliminary GDP estimates, which introduces stability to the target variable series, the nowcasting accuracy of regressions including closely-watched PMI data is improved by 25-40 percentage points relative to a naive benchmark.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationGlasgow
PublisherUniversity of Strathclyde
Number of pages38
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


  • nowcasting
  • forecasting
  • real-time data
  • GDP
  • midas

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