Content horizons for univariate time-series forecasts
This paper investigates the maximum horizon at which conditioning information can be shown to have value for univariate time series forecasts. In particular, we consider the problem of determining the horizon beyond which forecasts from univariate time series models of stationary processes add nothing to the forecast implicit in the unconditional mean. We refer to this as the content horizon for forecasts, and provide a formal definition of the corresponding forecast content function at horizons s=1,... S. This function depends upon parameter estimation uncertainty as well as on autocorrelation structure of the process. We show that for autoregressive processes it is possible to give an asymptotic expression for the forecast content function, and show by simulation that the expression gives a good approximation even at modest sample sizes. The results are applied to the growth rate of GDP and to inflation, using US and Canadian data.