How We Missed the Inflation Surge: An Anatomy of Post-2020 Inflation Forecast Errors


Christoffer Koch ; Diaa Noureldin

Publication Date:

May 12, 2023

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Disclaimer: IMF Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to encourage debate. The views expressed in IMF Working Papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF, its Executive Board, or IMF management.


This paper analyzes the inflation forecast errors over the period 2021Q1-2022Q3 using forecasts of core and headline inflation from the International Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook for a large group of advanced and emerging market economies. The findings reveal evidence of forecast bias that worsened initially then subsided towards the end of the sample. There is also evidence of forecast oversmoothing indicating rigidity in forecast revision in the face of incoming information. Focusing on core inflation forecast errors in 2021, four factors provide a potential ex post explanation: a stronger-than-anticipated demand recovery; demand-induced pressures on supply chains; the demand shift from services to goods at the onset of the pandemic; and labor market tightness. Ex ante, we find that the size of the COVID-19 fiscal stimulus packages announced by different governments in 2020 correlates positively with core inflation forecast errors in advanced economies. This result hints at potential forecast inefficiency, but we caution that it hinges on the outcomes of a few, albeit large, economies.


Working Paper No. 2023/102




Publication Date:

May 12, 2023



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