Forecasting with vector autoregressive (VAR) models subject to business cycle restrictions
In the last decade VAR models have become a widely-used tool for forecasting macroeconomic time series. To improve the out-of-sample forecasting accuracy of these models, Bayesian random-walk prior restrictions are often imposed on VAR model parameters. This paper focuses on whether placing an alternative type of restriction on the parameters of unrestricted VAR models improves the out-of-sample forecasting performance of these models. The type of restriction analyzed here is based on the business cycle characteristics of U.S. macroeconomic data, and in particular, requires that the dynamic behavior of the restricted VAR model mimic the business cycle characteristics of historical data. The question posed in this paper is: would a VAR model, estimated subject to the restriction that the cyclical characteristics of simulated data from the model ''match up'' with the business cycle characteristics of U.S. data, generate more accurate out-of-sample forecasts than unrestricted or Bayesian VAR models?