Tests in the early 1980s suggested that expectations were biased, and some economists took irrational expectations as a stylized fact. But, over time, the results of tests that led to such a conclusion were reversed. In this paper, the author examines how tests for bias in expectations, measured using the Survey of Professional Forecasters, have changed over time. In addition, key macroeconomic variables that are the subject of forecasts are revised over time, causing problems in determining how to measure the accuracy of forecasts. The results of bias tests are found to depend on the subsample in question, as well as what concept is used to measure the actual value of a macroeconomic variable. Thus, the author's analysis takes place in two dimensions: across subsamples and with alternative measures of realized values of variables.

View the Full Working Paper