What is it about?

In this study we present a geometric approach to proxy economic uncertainty. We design a positional indicator of disagreement among survey-based agents’ expectations about the state of the economy.

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Why is it important?

Previous dispersion-based uncertainty indicators derived from business and consumer surveys exclusively make use of the two extreme pieces of information: the percentage of respondents expecting a variable to rise and to fall. With the aim of also incorporating the information coming from the share of respondents expecting a variable to remain constant, we propose a geometrical framework and use a barycentric coordinate system to generate a measure of disagreement, referred to as a discrepancy indicator. We assess its performance both empirically and experimentally by comparing it to the standard deviation of the share of positive and negative responses. When applied in sixteen European countries, we find that both time-varying metrics co-evolve in most countries for expectations about the country’s overall economic situation in the present, but not in the future. Additionally, we obtain their simulated sampling distributions and we find that the proposed indicator gravitates uniformly towards the three vertices of the simplex representing the three answering categories, as opposed to the standard deviation, which tends to overestimate the level of uncertainty as a result of ignoring the no-change responses.


The finding that the information coming from agents expecting a variable to remain constant has an effect on the measurement of disagreement opens up a new line of research centered in designing new survey-based indicators of economic uncertainty.

Oscar Claveria
AQR-IREA, Univeristy of Barcelona

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This page is a summary of: Economic Uncertainty: A Geometric Indicator of Discrepancy Among Experts’ Expectations, Social Indicators Research, August 2018, Springer Science + Business Media,
DOI: 10.1007/s11205-018-1984-2.
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