What is it about?

The main objective of this study is two-fold. First, we aim to detect the underlying existing periodicities in business and consumer survey expectations by means of spectral analysis. We use the Welch method to extract the harmonic components that correspond to the cyclic and seasonal patterns in all response options of monthly survey indicators. Second, we aim to provide researchers with a filter especially designed for business and consumer survey expectations that circumvents the assumptions of other filtering methods. We design a low-pass filter that allows extracting the components with periodicities similar to those that can be found in the dynamics of economic activity. We opt for a Butterworth filter and apply a zero-phase filtering process to preserve the time alignment of the time series.

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Why is it important?

We find that business survey indicators show a common cyclical component of low frequency that corresponds to about four years, while for most consumer survey indicators we do not detect any relevant cyclic components, and the obtained lower frequency periodicities show a very irregular pattern across questions and reply options. Most methods for seasonal adjustment are based on a priori assumptions about the structure of the components and do not depend on the features of the specific series. In order to overcome this limitation, we design a low-pass filter that allows extracting the components with periodicities similar to those that can be found in the dynamics of economic activity. We find that the balances computed with the filtered series are highly correlated with the seasonally-adjusted balances published by the European Commission, albeit the former tend to be smoother for the consumer survey indicators.

Perspectives

Frequency domain analysis allows detecting the underlying existing periodicities in business and consumer survey expectations. As opposed to the seasonally-adjusted balances, which are obtained by applying a seasonal adjustment method dependent on a set of assumptions about the structure of the components of the series, the proposed procedure: i) is specifically designed for this particular set of data, ii) allows extracting the those periodicities similar to the ones that can be found in the dynamics of economic activity, and ii) is directly implementable.

Oscar Claveria
AQR-IREA, Univeristy of Barcelona

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This page is a summary of: Frequency domain analysis and filtering of business and consumer survey expectations, International Economics, March 2021, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.inteco.2021.03.002.
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