Sense and Nonsense of Economic Forecasts: Motivation and Methods for Macroeconomic Forecasts



This challenge was introduced by Ferdinand Fichtner, a researcher at DIW German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin.


Economic forecasts do not necessarily have the best reputation in public. Nobody genuinely understands what they are about, and at the same time, they are prone to error in many people’s eyes.


In the course of this challenge, we want to learn the sense – and nonsense – of economic forecasts and develop methods to improve them. Could we use, for example, indications in social media that relate to economic trends? Alternatively, do we need different indicators to provide better forecasts for growth, unemployment rates, and inflation? Moreover, above all, what makes a forecast a useful forecast?


Which institutions publish economic forecasts regularly – both in Germany and worldwide? How do these forecasts differ and why are there these differences?


What are the main elements of economic forecasts? Which economic parameters must be included?


Which methods to forecast an economic development can be differentiated? For which purpose do researchers use these methods respectively?

Recommended literature



Economic forecasts  of the Gemeinschaftsdiagnose ( and its member institutions


Döhrn, Roland (2014), Konjunkturdiagnose und -prognose, Berlin und Heidelberg:
Springer Gabler.


Taleb, Nassim Nicholas (2013), Der schwarze Schwan, München: dtv.

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    DIW Berlin (German Institute for Economic Research) has been one of the leading economic research institutes in Germany since 1925.

    The institute researches topics in the field of economic and social sciences and advises policymakers and society at large on the basis of its specialist knowledge. DIW Berlin is part of both the national and international scientific communities, provides a research infrastructure to academics all over the world, and promotes the next generation of scientists.

    A member of the Leibniz Association, DIW Berlin is independent and primarily publicly funded.

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