November 17, 2011 This article reviews recent work that uses principal-component analysis to extract information common to indicators from the Bank of Canada’s Business Outlook Survey (BOS). The authors use correlation analysis and an out-of-sample forecasting exercise to assess and compare the information content of the principal component with that of responses to key individual survey questions on growth in real gross domestic product and in real business investment. Results suggest that summarizing the common movements among BOS indicators may provide useful information for forecasting near-term growth in business investment. For growth in real gross domestic product, however, the survey’s balance of opinion on future sales growth appears to be more informative.
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