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Capturing Macroeconomic Tail Risks with Bayesian Vector Autoregressions


A rapidly growing body of research has examined tail risks in macroeconomic outcomes. Most of this work has focused on the risks of significant declines in GDP, and has relied on quantile regression methods to estimate tail risks. In this paper we examine the ability of Bayesian VARs with stochastic volatility to capture tail risks in macroeconomic forecast distributions and outcomes. We consider both a conventional stochastic volatility specification and a specification featuring a common volatility factor that is a function of past financial conditions. Even though the conditional predictive distributions from the VAR models are symmetric, our estimated models featuring time-varying volatility yield more time variation in downside risk as compared to upside risk—a feature highlighted in other work that has advocated for quantile regression methods or focused on asymmetric conditional distributions. Overall, the BVAR models perform comparably to quantile regression for estimating tail risks, with, in addition, some gains in standard point and density forecasts.

Keywords: forecasting, downside risk, asymmetries.
JEL classification codes: C53, E17, E37, F47.


Suggested citation: Carriero, Andrea, Todd E. Clark, and Massimiliano Marcellino. 2020. “Capturing Macroeconomic Tail Risks with Bayesian Vector Autoregressions.” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Working Paper No. 20-02. https://doi.org/10.26509/frbc-wp-202002.

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