Business and economic forecasts that are past their shelf life, such as GDP forecasts for the year 2010 made in the year 2008, might seem to be of little value. But business researchers examine old forecasts to test their accuracy or to better understand the economic climate of a period. It is well known that forecasters almost universally missed predicting the “Great Recession” business decline of 2008/2009. For example, The Economist’s Poll of Forecasters for Jan 12, 2008 (pg. 89) predicted that U.S. GDP would increase 1.8% in 2008 and 2.6% in 2009. GDP actually fell slightly in 2008 and was down 2.8% in 2009.
Here are some sources of historical forecasts that will let you exercise 20/20 hindsight.
The Economist Historical Archive has monthly macroeconomics projections for major industrialized countries. The series was introduced in the August 18, 1990 issue, and gives a consistent source for the projections of three macroeconomic variables from 1991 to 2011. Each month, the Economist gives the averages of the one year forecasts of international forecasters for GDP, the Consumer Price Index, and the Current Account Balance (as a percentage of GDP). The numbers are given as percentage changes.
To retrieve the entire series of monthly projections, search for:
Poll of Forecasters OR Economic Forecasts (in title)
Limit publication date to AFTER 1989.
To see a PDF of the tables, click on View Page and then on Economic Forecasts.
Forecasts from 1990 – 2003 have the option of being exported to a spreadsheet (example below from the Oct 9th 1999 Economist)
Economist Projections from Oct 9 1999
Archived reports from Business Monitor International (BMI) give projections for the economies of major countries, and in addition, supply country industry forecasts. BMI covers some 100 countries and 25 industry groups. Not all industries are available for all countries, but their coverage is impressive. For example, BMI has archived reports of the Serbian Auto Industry from 2006 on.
From the BMI main menu:
Advanced Search => Reports & Strategic Content =>Reports Archive
For general business and economic forecasts, search for the report title with the name of the country – for example:
Italy Business Forecast
For industries within countries, include the name of the industry:
Italy Telecommunications Report
Clicking on ARCHIVES will display the individual historical reports.
The Italy Telecommunications Report for Q 2004 gives projections to 2007.
Two general business databases, Business Source Complete and ABI/Inform, contain several full-text publications devoted to business and economic forecasts. Search their publication files for the word Forecast* anywhere in the title.
Some examples include:
Commodity Price Forecasts (Oxford Economics) – monthly forecasts from 2006 giving two year forecasts of energy and base metal prices.
Country Watch Forecast Brief – 5 year projections for the country’s macro economic, energy, metal and agriculture sectors. Includes 100+ countries from 2010 to date.
Stratfor Forecasts: Forecasts of global political, economic and military developments from 2009 on.
For additional sources of economic projections, see this FAQ.