Predictions vs. Preliminary Sample Estimates: The Case of Eurozone Quarterly GDP

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Abstract

Economic agents are aware of incurring a loss in basing their decisions on their own extrapolations instead of on sound statistical data, but this loss may be smaller than the one related to waiting for the dissemination of the final data. Broad guidelines on deciding when statistical offices should release preliminary and final estimates of the key statistics may come from comparing the loss attached to users’ predictions with the loss associated to possible preliminary estimates from incomplete samples. Furthermore, the cost of delaying decisions may support the dissemination of very early estimates of economic indicators, even if their accuracy is not fully satisfactory from a strict statistical viewpoint. Analysing the vintages of releases of quarterly Euro area GDP supports the view that even very inefficient predictions may beat some official preliminary releases of GDP, suggesting that the current calendar of data dissemination requires some adjustment. In particular, actual “flash” estimates could be anticipated, while some later intermediate releases are likely less informative for the users.

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