Canadian Economic Forecasting

Canadian Economic Forecasting: In a World Where All's Unsure

MERVIN DAUB
Copyright Date: 1987
Pages: 236
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt80355
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  • Book Info
    Canadian Economic Forecasting
    Book Description:

    Daub discusses both the rationale for the practice of forecasting and the methods commonly used, and traces the history of aggregate economic forecasting in Canada, examining the structure, conduct, and performance of the present forecasting "industry," particularly the nature of demand and supply, pricing and promotion considerations, and profits and efficiency. He also examinines factors which influence the accuracy of forecasts and reviews the record of Canadian forecasting.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6146-5
    Subjects: Economics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    All of us have at one time or another seen those wonderful, early, black and white movies. In some, Stanley, or another adventurer, is deep in the jungle surrounded by natives, led by a sinister type with much hair, and even more bones. We all know who he is. He is the witch doctor! We also all know the purpose of that bone rattling: dire consequences, not so much for the adventurer, who will be saved by the credits, but rather for the tribe.

    In other movies there is the equally well-known scene in which the Indian shamans under their...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Methods
    (pp. 15-38)

    Through time, the methods used for making aggregate economic forecasts have included almost everything conceivably of use, ranging from sunspots to tea leaves to elaborate mathematical models of the economic behaviour of nations. Books, indeed entire libraries, have been devoted to certain methods. One can cite immediately regression analysis in the modern era, and alchemy in the medieval. Thus it is presumptuous in a chapter such as this to attempt to discuss them all. Even omitting the non-modern approaches does not narrow the field appreciably: there are a great number of modern instruments that could be, and indeed are, brought...

  6. CHAPTER THREE History 1945—64
    (pp. 39-51)

    Apart from a few scattered pieces, little is available on the earliest days of aggregate economic forecasting in Canada.¹ Certainly such forecasts have been made regularly. Complete records of forecasts dating from the 1950s exist privately, for example, within such corporate institutions as Sun Life, the Toronto Dominion Bank, and Bell Canada. But no systematic attempt has been made to consider the origins of this forecasting, the important figures and their intellectual inspirations, and how the industry evolved, or why. Because these kinds of forecasts are such an important part of economic life, it is strange that business and economic...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR History 1964—87
    (pp. 52-66)

    Spurred perhaps by the growing sense of the potential power and control suggested by the new methods discussed at the end of chapter 3 and by the 1960s “cultural revolution,” a desire began to develop early to mid-decade for regulatory and government intervention to correct “abuses” in society. Automobiles, worker safety and the environment were among the areas affected. This intervention required more data, more analytics, and, inevitably, more forecasting. As well, problems were beginning to surface with respect to the international monetary system, which were accelerated by the Vietnam War. By the late 1960s the continued momentum generated by...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Demand and Supply
    (pp. 67-87)

    Aggregate economic forecasting in Canada is thus relatively young as industries go. Nevertheless it has an interesting and dynamic history, especially since the Second World War. It behooves us to look more closely at the industry for a number of reasons. To begin, let us briefly review what comprises the industry at present.

    As discussed hereafter the industry consists first of the majors, which I shall mention in alphabetical order. The Conference Board of Canada, located in Ottawa, is perhaps the oldest continuing forecasting operation in the industry.¹ It is a non-profit organization supported primarily by private-sector subscription and offers...

  9. CHAPTER SIX Structure, Conduct, Performance
    (pp. 88-107)

    It is interesting to examine next what industrial structure emerges from the nature of demand and supply. Such a consideration leads naturally also to an investigation of conduct, and ultimately performance, in the industry. Both can be used to assess further whether the characterization of structure is valid. Besides this more analytical reason for looking at structure, examination of the industry in these terms is valuable for purely descriptive purposes. In both of these respects it is customary to consider various additional issues about structure, particularly the size distribution of firms, the nature of ownership (private/public, foreign, interlocking), and the...

  10. CHAPTER SEVEN Accuracy
    (pp. 108-142)

    As a consequence of the final section of the previous chapter, the reader might be forgiven his or her wonder at suddenly coming on a chapter or two that propose to consider the accuracy of Canadian aggregate economic forecasts. Was it not, after all, concluded that the industry was both profitable and efficient? Surely this implies satisfaction with its product — and their accuracy.

    To be sure this requires the added assumption that the “revealed truth” motive for demanding the forecasts is important. But that was never disputed earlier, only the contention that it was the only motive. However, accuracy...

  11. CHAPTER EIGHT International Comparisons
    (pp. 143-158)

    While this is a book principally about Canadian aggregate economic forecasting, Canadians are not alone in this game. The practice is world-wide. In some places such as the United States it is even proportionally much larger than it is in Canada. In others it is less consequential than one might expect. In some it is a free-market activity; in others it is dominated by one actor, usually the government. For our purposes here, it is of little interest to consider the forecasting activities of the centrally planned Eastern Bloc countries. That is not to say that the topic is not...

  12. CHAPTER NINE Policy Considerations
    (pp. 159-177)

    As we have moved along through this story about aggregate economic forecasting in Canada, we have found ourselves on several occasions face to face with what might be thought of as policy considerations. In some instances the issues were addressed, in others ignored. It is now time to consider them in a systematic way.

    The term “policy considerations” has been left deliberately vague for a reason. It is intended to cover two rather broad, and quite different, interpretations. The first relates to the use of aggregate economic forecasting in policy formation; the second to public issues related to “controlling” the...

  13. CHAPTER TEN Conclusions
    (pp. 178-190)

    It is always good at the end of a trip to reflect systematically on its important events. It is one of the main reasons many people keep a travel diary. By so reflecting one brings the trip alive briefly once more and fixes its moment in the memory. We have had a trip of sorts here, and it is wise now to do likewise. The following points, 30 or so, are those that I would hope the reader will take with him or her.

    1. “Foretelling/casting” is an important part of desires and efforts to control one’s destiny in an uncertain...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 191-218)
  15. References
    (pp. 219-232)
  16. Index
    (pp. 233-236)