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Background on the survey of professional forecasters

The survey began in January 1999 and as such is the longest-running survey of euro area macroeconomic expectations. It is conducted four times a year, in January, April, July and October.

Respondents to the Survey of Professional Forecasters are experts employed by financial or non-financial institutions, such as economic research institutions.

The survey asks for point forecasts and probability distributions for the rates of annual HICP inflation, annual core HICP inflation, real GDP growth and unemployment expected in the euro area at several horizons:

  • the current calendar year
  • the next calendar year
  • the calendar year after that
  • a rolling horizon one year ahead of the latest available data
  • a rolling horizon two years ahead of the latest available data
  • a longer-term horizon.

Point expectations for annual growth in compensation per employee, the oil price (in US dollars), the USD/EUR exchange rate and the rate on the ECB’s main refinancing operations at different horizons are also collected.

Since 2008 the ECB has also conducted a special survey every five years, exploring the forecast processes and methodologies underlying the contributions made to the regular quarterly survey. The results of all special surveys provide information on how frequently respondents typically update their forecasts, the forecasting techniques and models they employ and, specifically, how they generate their probability distributions. The second special survey conducted in 2013 also explored how forecast processes and methodologies might have changed following the financial crisis. The third special survey conducted in 2018 further probed how forecasts for pairs (or a higher number) of variables were made jointly, in accordance with economic relationships such as Okun’s law and the Philips curve.

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Economic Analysis

The SPF, for which the full, anonymised microdata are published each quarter, provides a rich source of information for both research and conjunctural analysis, a selection of which is presented here.

Research papers and articles
5 February 2019
ECB Economic Bulletin, Issue 1
  • de Vincent-Humphreys et al.
21 September 2017
ECB Conference “Understanding Inflation”
  • Kenny, G. and Dovern, J.
6 November 2015
ECB Working Paper 1865
  • Grothe, M. and Meyler, A.
23 May 2014
ECB Working Paper 1679
  • Kenny, G. et al.
26 April 2013
ECB Working Paper 1540
  • Kenny, G. et al.
11 July 2012
ECB Working Paper 1446
  • Kenny, G. et al.
8 December 2010
ECB Working Paper 1277
  • Genre, V. et al.
5 April 2007
ECB Occasional Paper 59
  • Bowles, C. et al.
Economic Bulletin boxes
28 December 2017
ECB Economic Bulletin, Issue 8, Box 4
3 August 2017
ECB Economic Bulletin, Issue 5, Box 4
2 February 2017
ECB Economic Bulletin, Issue 1, Box 5