Forecasting the Depression: Harvard versus Yale

Was the Depression forecastable? After the crash, how long should it have taken contemporary forecasters to realize how severe the downturn was going to be? These questions are addressed by studying the predictions of the Harvard Economic Service and Yale's Irving Fisher during 1929 and the early 1930s. The data assembled by the Harvard and Yale forecasters, together with modern historical data, are subjected to statistical analysis to learn whether their verbal pronouncements were consistent with the data. Both the Harvard and Yale forecasters were systematically too optimistic. Yet, nothing in the data suggests that the optimism was unwarranted.