Constructing a Coincident Index of Business Cycles Without Assuming a One-Factor Model

Abstract

The Stock–Watson coincident index and its subsequent extensions assume a static linear one-factor model for the component indicators. Such assumption is restrictive in practice, however, with as few as four indicators. In fact, such assumption is unnecessary if one poses the index construction problem as optimal prediction of latent monthly real GDP. This paper estimates a VAR model for latent monthly real GDP and other indicators using the observable mixed-frequency series. The EM algorithm is useful for overcoming the computational difficulty, especially in model selection. The smoothed estimate of latent monthly real GDP is the proposed index. School of Economics and Social Sciences, Singapore Management University, The Federal Building, 469 Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 259756; E-mail: rsmariano@smu.edu.sg College of Economics, Osaka Prefecture University, 1-1 Gakuen-cho, Sakai, Osaka 599-8531, Japan; E-mail: murasawa@eco.osakafu-u.ac.jp

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