Estimating Brazilian monthly GDP: a state-space approach
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The first contribution of this paper is to employ a superior interpolation method that enables to estimate, nowcast and forecast monthly Brazilian GDP for 1980-2012 in an integrated way; see Bernanke, Gertler and Watson (1997, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity). The second contribution, along the spirit of Mariano and Murasawa (2003, Journal of Applied Econometrics), is to propose and test a myriad of inter-polation models and interpolation auxiliary series all coincident with GDP from a business-cycle dating point of view. Based on these results, we finally choose the most appropriate monthly indicator for Brazilian GDP. Third, this monthly GDP estimate is compared to an economic activity indicator widely used by practitioners in Brazil - the Brazilian Economic Activity Index - (IBC-Br). We found that our monthly GDP tracks economic activity better than IBC-Br. This happens by construction, since our state-space approach imposes the restriction (discipline) that our monthly estimate must add up to the quarterly observed series in any given quarter, which may not hold regarding IBC-Br. Moreover, our method has the advantage to be easily implemented: it only requires conditioning on two observed series for estimation, while estimating IBC-Br requires the availability of hundreds of monthly series. The third contribution is to illustrate, in a nowcasting and forecasting exercise, the advantages of our integrated approach. Finally, we compare the chronology of recessions of our monthly estimate with those done elsewhere.