Data Uncertainty, the Output Gap and Monetary Policy in the United Kingdom

  •  Graeme Chamberlin    


It is now widely accepted that early vintages of GDP data are likely to undergo a series of revisions as more information becomes available to National Statistics Institutions. This, however, creates a trade-off between timeliness and accuracy for data users such as monetary policy-makers. This article investigates the importance of data revisions for the operation of monetary policy in the UK. I find data revisions have been smaller in the last decade and early data vintages provide a relatively good signal of data released at a later date. There is though evidence of cyclicality and structural breaks in the data revision process which should caution data users against assuming data revisions are predictable. I also look at the role of the output gap in the practical implementation of monetary policy through the Taylor rule. While revisions to GDP data account for some of the mismeasurement of the output gap, I conclude that it is a relatively small culprit. The main cause of output gap revisions is due to the difficulty in estimating the level of potential output towards the end of the sample where statistical filter methods are generally unreliable.

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