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Complete FREDcast User Manual

FREDcast is an interactive forecasting game in which players make forecasts for four economic releases: GDP, inflation, employment, and unemployment. All forecasts are for the current month—or current quarter in the case of GDP. Forecasts must be submitted by the 20th of the current month. For real GDP growth, players submit a forecast for current-quarter GDP each month during the current quarter. Forecasts for each of the four variables are scored for accuracy, and a total monthly score is obtained from these scores. Scores for each monthly forecast are based on the magnitude of the forecast error. These monthly scores are weighted over time and accumulated to give an overall performance.

Higher scores reflect greater accuracy over time. Past months' performances are downweighted so that more-recent performance plays a larger part in the scoring.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a FRED account to participate?


What country's data am I forecasting?

All FREDcast series are data for the United States.

What is a release date?

Release dates are the days that economic agencies release economic data to the public. Economic data is always released on a lag, for example, March payroll employment is release on the first Friday in April. For 2016, the release date for March payroll employment is April 1, 2016.

What am I forecasting for GDP?

Output growth is the seasonally adjusted annualized quarter-to-quarter percentage change advance estimate of GDP from the previous final estimate of GDP, rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent. The advance estimate is the release that is available one month after the end of the quarter. The advance estimates for GDP are released at the end of January, April, July, and October.

Why do I forecast the same GDP number three times?

GDP is a quarterly variable and the forecast period is a month. Thus, users forecast the same quarterly GDP value for each of the three months in the quarter. Each of these forecasts is evaluated against the same advance estimate of GDP.

What am I forecasting for unemployment?

Unemployment is the seasonally adjusted level of the headline unemployment rate in percentage points rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent. The unemployment data are usually released on the first Friday of the month.

What am I forecasting for inflation?

Inflation is the percent change from one year ago in the headline CPI rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent. The CPI data are released in the middle of the month.

What am I forecasting for employment?

Employment growth is the seasonally adjusted monthly change in nonfarm payroll employment to the nearest thousand persons. The employment data are usually released on the first Friday of the month.

Am I really forecasting for the current month?

Yes. The forecasts for each month must be made by the 20th of that month. Let's use May as our example: You must provide a forecast for May's GDP, CPI, unemployment, and employment by May 20. In technical terms, this is a "zero-horizon" forecast.

If I already entered a forecast for the current month, can I change my forecast?

Yes. Provided you do so before the deadline.

How are the scores calculated?

The scores are aggregated over the months that you participate. Past results are dynamically weighted so that older results have lower but nonzero weight. Thus, the longer you play, the higher your cumulative score but older performance is downgraded relative to the current performance. The scores are dynamically weighted and summed over the months you participate. The forecast errors for the four variables are weighted according to the variables' standard deviations for the sample period 1970:01 to 2014:12

Is a higher score better?

Yes. Negative scores are bad.

My forecasts for GDP and the unemployment rate both missed by 0.1 percentage points but my score for GDP was higher. Why is that?

The scores for forecasting different economic releases also take into account how difficult it is to forecast those specific releases. The sample variance of GDP is higher than the variance of unemployment, so the score for forecasting GDP is weighted higher in a player's overall score for the month.

What is a league?

A league is a collection of players who have a private leaderboard for forecasts. This allows members of a class or a company to compete against each other. The league will have a separate page for a league leaderboard that displays the distributions of the league's forecasts and tracks how the players are doing.

How do I start/join a league?

The leagues are formed when a "commissioner" (e.g., teacher) solicits a league ID from FRED. The league ID includes a passcode that the commissioner shares with the other participants. The participants sign up for a FRED account, enter the passcode, and join the league.

If I'm in a league, am I also in the public league?


Can users inside my league see my forecasts?


If my league is for a class, does my account stay active after the class ends?

Yes. Even if your league disbands, your FRED account keeps your account open and you can continue to make forecasts within the public league.

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