Regional and Sectoral News-Based Indicators for Macroeconomic Forecasting
This paper combines dictionary-based methods and topic models to extract timely economic and financial signals at the sectoral (or 6-digit NAICS), provincial, and national levels from Canadian newspaper text and shows that such information can materially improve forecasts of macroeconomic variables, including GDP, inflation, housing prices, and unemployment. I use an advanced machine learning method to isolate information about future, current, and past sentiments. Such indices are extracted from approximately 2 million articles from major Canadian newspapers, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen, Regina Leader-Post, The Globe and Mail, and Vancouver Sun.
Can Media Narratives Predict House Price Movements?, with Christopher Rauh/a>
This paper investigates how the housing market, a major asset in household wealth, mirrors broader economic trends and presents a predictive model for housing price movements in Canada at both local and national levels. Our methodology unfolds in two distinct stages: initially, we process over two million newspaper articles through advanced natural language processing techniques to extract media narratives, analyze sentiments, and sort articles according to their focus on past, present, or future events. Subsequently, we implement mixed-frequency machine learning methods to generate a sequence of predictions for quarterly housing prices. The predictions are based on linear models estimated via the LASSO, Ridge, and Elastic net, nonlinear models based on Random Forests, Extreme Gradient Boosting, Artificial Neural Networks, and ensembles of linear and nonlinear models. The results indicate that news data contain valuable information about the housing market's direction. Furthermore, we identify the economic drivers of our machine learning models by applying a novel framework based on SHAP values, uncovering nonlinear relationships between the predictors and house prices.
(Almost) 50 Years of Signals? How Media Deciphers Central Bank Messages
In this paper, I use an advanced computational linguistics approach to examine several ways to extract timely economic signals from a 47-year span of Bank of Canada (BoC) news media coverage. I demonstrate how such data can enhance the assessment of the economy's health and improve macroeconomic forecasts, including CPI inflation and GDP growth. Exploiting BoC newspaper text can improve economic forecasts both unconditionally and when conditioning on other relevant information, but the performance of the latter varies according to the method used. Incorporating text into forecasts by combining forward-looking time dimension with supervised machine learning delivers the highest forecast improvements relative to existing text-based methods. These improvements are most pronounced during periods of economic stress when, arguably, forecasts matter most. My results have two significant implications for monetary policy. First, my text measures can serve as real granular macroeconomic expectations indicators of banks' staff economic forecasts. Second, I shed some light on the links between BoC news coverage and consumer inflation expectations, facilitating the study of the transmission of monetary shocks.
Power Blackout ‘Pandemic' and Social Media Voice, with Joseph Agossa
The energy crisis in South Africa has become a major concern for governments, businesses, and consumers. While conventional survey methods to gauge public opinion on power blackouts are costly and time-consuming, Twitter has emerged as a useful tool for collecting data on the crisis, providing a more efficient and cost-effective way to gauge public sentiment through tweets. This study explores the use of Twitter to assess public sentiment on the energy crisis in South Africa, analyzing all tweets related to the issue from January 2010 to February 2023. By doing so, the study identified significant variations in sentiment across different cities and provinces, highlighting Twitter's value in understanding public sentiment and gaining insights into the issue. Furthermore, the study used machine learning techniques, such as Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA), to identify key topics discussed in the data, which could inform policy decisions to address the country's energy crisis. Additionally, the study found that the energy crisis has increased people's interest in renewable energy. Finally, the dynamic responses of macro variables to the identified energy crisis sentiment are consistent with the theoretical consensus. Overall, this study demonstrates the value of using Twitter as a tool for monitoring public sentiment and understanding the energy crisis in South Africa, providing a more cost-effective and efficient alternative to traditional survey methods.
"Narratives are major vectors of rapid change in culture, in zeitgeist, and in economic behavior."
—Robert Shiller (2019).