Predicting Recession Probabilities With Financial Variables Over Multiple Horizons

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Executive Summary

The authors forecast recession probabilities for the United States, Germany and Japan. The predictions are based on the widely-used probit approach, but the dynamics of regressors are endogenized using a VAR. The combined model is called a 'ProbVAR'. At any point in time, the ProbVAR allows to generate conditional recession probabilities for any sequence of forecast horizons. At the same time, the ProbVAR is as easy to implement as traditional probit regressions. The slope of the yield curve turns out to be a successful predictor, but forecasts can be markedly improved by adding other financial variables such as the short-term interest rate, stock returns or corporate bond spreads.

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