Forecasting at the national and regional levels
The Atlanta Fed produces economic forecasts on a regular basis, as do other Reserve Banks, economic think tanks, and many, many other institutions. The Fed's forecasts are published with the minutes of meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). In 2011, these forecasts were released after every other FOMC meeting, the last being in November. In the Atlanta Fed's latest macroblog, Dave Altig, our senior vice president and research director, detailed the changes coming in 2012 to the Fed's Summary of Economic Projections (SEP).
How are the Atlanta Fed's economic projections developed? It's a combination of sophisticated econometric modeling, application of intelligence gathered through our Regional Economic Information Network (REIN) and direct input from our Boards of Directors, expertise of our staff macro, micro, and financial economists, and, most importantly, President Dennis Lockhart's own views. The Bank's economic forecast is, after all, his forecast, so he gets the final word.
President Lockhart detailed his outlook for economic growth earlier this week in his speech before the Rotary Club of Atlanta:
"This brings me to the outlook for 2012. Europe is the biggest wild card for the coming year. Also, the rising tensions in the Persian Gulf and the jumpiness of oil market prices cannot be ignored.
If there are no surprises from Europe or elsewhere, we at the Atlanta Fed are expecting modest GDP growth for the year in the range of 2.5 to 3 percent, but we will not be surprised to see some retrenchment of consumer activity as well as exports and inventory accumulation in the first quarter as compared to the last quarter of 2011."
While these projections focus the national economy, several regional projections focus on state outlooks. The Atlanta Fed does not produce state forecasts, but many members of our Local Economic Analysis and Research Network (LEARN) do, several of which can be found below:
Although not a state forecast, Louisiana State University's Center for Energy Studies posted a September 2011 presentation by Dr. David Dismukes titled "Natural Gas Trends and Impact on Industrial Development" that dives deeply into the outlook for this important and rapidly growing sector.
The 18th Annual Mississippi Economic Outlook Webcast hosted by Mississippi's Institutes of Higher Learning Economics Department can be viewed in its entirety.
Quarterly updates on the Volunteer State's outlook are available from the University of Tennessee's Center for Business and Economic Research. The latest post is for fall 2011, but check back for its 2012 Economic Report to the Governor of the State of Tennessee which should be available sometime in January.
The Business and Economic Research Center at Middle Tennessee State University holds an annual outlook conference. The latest presentation from the center director, Dr. David Penn, can be found here.
Of course, forecasting is not an exact science. Macroblog has looked at forecasts and forecasting over the years. Take a look for some thoughtful dialogue on the topic and check back with us and our colleagues throughout the region to see how 2012 national and state forecasts evolve.
By Mike Chriszt, an assistant vice president in the Atlanta Fed's research department
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