K.U.Leuven - Faculty of Economics and Applied Economics
DTEW - KBI_0707 pages:1-15
Economic sentiment surveys are carried out by all European Union member states on a monthly basis. The survey outcomes are used to obtain early insight into future economic evolutions and often receive extensive press coverage. Based on these surveys, the European Commission constructs an aggregate European Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI). This paper compares the ESI with more sophisticated aggregation schemes based on two statistical methods: dynamic factor analysis and partial least squares. We compare the aggregate sentiment indicators and the weights used in their construction. Afterwards a comparison of their forecast performance for two real economic series, industrial production growth and unemployment, follows. Our findings are twofold. First it is found that the ESI, although constructed in a rather ad hoc way, can compete with the indicators constructed according to statistical principles. Secondly, the predictive power of the sentiment indicators, as tested for in an out-of sample Granger causality framework, is limited.