Analyzing and Forecasting the Canadian Economy through the LENS Model

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The authors describe the key features of a new large-scale Canadian macroeconomic forecasting model developed over the past two years at the Bank of Canada. The new model, called LENS for Large Empirical and Semi-structural model, uses a methodology similar to the Federal Reserve Board’s FRB/US model and the Bank of Canada’s projection model of the U.S. economy (MUSE). LENS is based on a system of estimated reduced-form equations that describe the interactions among key macroeconomic variables. The model strikes a balance between theoretical structure and empirical properties, since most behavioural equations combine forward-looking expectations with adjustment costs. Compared to ToTEM, the Bank’s main model for projection and policy analysis, LENS is more driven by the empirical properties of the data than economic theory and generally provides better out-of-sample forecast performance. In addition, LENS is more disaggregated, thereby allowing the analysis of a broader set of issues related to the economic outlook. These properties will make LENS a useful complement to ToTEM for constructing economic projections at the Bank of Canada.