Working Paper Abstract

Leading Indicators: What Have We Learned?
Massimilano Marcellino (UniversitÓ Bocconi and IGIER)


We provide a summary updated guide for the construction, use and evaluation of
leading indicators, and an assessment of the most relevant recent developments in this
field of economic forecasting. To begin with, we analyze the problem of selecting a
target coincident variable for the leading indicators, which requires coincident indicator
selection, construction of composite coincident indexes, choice of filtering methods,
and business cycle dating procedures to transform the continous target into a binary
expansion/recession indicator. Next, we deal with criteria for choosing good leading
indicators, and simple non-model based methods to combine them into composite indexes.
Then, we examine models and methods to transform the leading indicators into
forecasts of the target variable. Finally, we consider the evaluation of the resulting
leading indicator based forecasts, and review the recent literature on the forecasting
performance of leading indicators.

Keywords: Business Cycles, Leading Indicators, Coincident Indicators, Turning Points,

J.E.L. Classification: E32, E37, C53

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Last updated February 27, 2007