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Menzie D. Chinn

1 August 2023
We nowcast world trade using machine learning, distinguishing between tree-based methods (random forest, gradient boosting) and their regression-based counterparts (macroeconomic random forest, linear gradient boosting). While much less used in the literature, the latter are found to outperform not only the tree-based techniques, but also more “traditional” linear and non-linear techniques (OLS, Markov-switching, quantile regression). They do so significantly and consistently across different horizons and real-time datasets. To further improve performances when forecasting with machine learning, we propose a flexible three-step approach composed of (step 1) pre-selection, (step 2) factor extraction and (step 3) machine learning regression. We find that both pre-selection and factor extraction significantly improve the accuracy of machine-learning-based predictions. This three-step approach also outperforms workhorse benchmarks, such as a PCA-OLS model, an elastic net, or a dynamic factor model. Finally, on top of high accuracy, the approach is flexible and can be extended seamlessly beyond world trade.
JEL Code
C53 : Mathematical and Quantitative Methods→Econometric Modeling→Forecasting and Prediction Methods, Simulation Methods
C55 : Mathematical and Quantitative Methods→Econometric Modeling→Modeling with Large Data Sets?
E37 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
10 February 2017
Previous assessments of nominal exchange rate determination, following Meese and Rogoff (1983) have focused upon a narrow set of models. Cheung et al. (2005) augmented the usual suspects with productivity based models, and "behavioral equilibrium exchange rate" models, and assessed performance at horizons of up to 5 years. In this paper, we further expand the set of models to include Taylor rule fundamentals, yield curve factors, and incorporate shadow rates and risk and liquidity factors. The performance of these models is compared against the random walk benchmark. The models are estimated in error correction and first-difference specifications. We examine model performance at various forecast horizons (1 quarter, 4 quarters, 20 quarters) using differing metrics (mean squared error, direction of change), as well as the
JEL Code
F31 : International Economics→International Finance→Foreign Exchange
F47 : International Economics→Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance→Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications