Philippe Goulet Coulombe
Maxime Leroux
Dalibor Stevanovic
Stéphane Surprenant

how is machine learning useful for macroeconomic forecasting? (replication data)

We move beyond Is Machine Learning Useful for Macroeconomic Forecasting? by adding the how. The current forecasting literature has focused on matching specific variables and horizons with a particularly successful algorithm. To the contrary, we study the usefulness of the underlying features driving ML gains over standard macroeconometric methods. We distinguish four so-called features (nonlinearities, regularization, cross-validation, and alternative loss function) and study their behavior in both the data-rich and data-poor environments. To do so, we design experiments that allow to identify the “treatment” effects of interest. We conclude that (i) nonlinearity is the true game changer for macroeconomic prediction, (ii) the standard factor model remains the best regularization, (iii) K-fold cross-validation is the best practice, and (iv) the $$ {L}_2 $$ is preferred to the $$ \overline{\epsilon} $$-insensitive in-sample loss. The forecasting gains of nonlinear techniques are associated with high macroeconomic uncertainty, financial stress and housing bubble bursts. Furthermore, ML nonlinearities are helpful when considering density forecasts.

Data and Resources

Suggested Citation

Coulombe, Philippe Goulet; Leroux, Maxime; Stevanovic, Dalibor; Surprenant, Stéphane (2022): How is machine learning useful for macroeconomic forecasting? (replication data). Version: 1. Journal of Applied Econometrics. Dataset.