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Neural networks and traditional time series methods: a synergistic combination in state economic forecasts

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2 Author(s)
Hansen, J.V. ; Marriott Sch. of Manage., Brigham Young Univ., Provo, UT, USA ; Nelson, R.D.

Ever since the initial planning for the 1997 Utah legislative session, neural-network forecasting techniques have provided valuable insights for analysts forecasting tax revenues. These revenue estimates are critically important since agency budgets, support for education, and improvements to infrastructure all depend on their accuracy. Underforecasting generates windfalls that concern taxpayers, whereas overforecasting produces budget shortfalls that cause inadequately funded commitments. The pattern finding ability of neural networks gives insightful and alternative views of the seasonal and cyclical components commonly found in economic time series data. Two applications of neural networks to revenue forecasting clearly demonstrate how these models complement traditional time series techniques. In the first, preoccupation with a potential downturn in the economy distracts analysis based on traditional time series methods so that it overlooks an emerging new phenomenon in the data. In this case, neural networks identify the new pattern that then allows modification of the time series models and finally gives more accurate forecasts. In the second application, data structure found by traditional statistical tools allows analysts to provide neural networks with important information that the networks then use to create more accurate models. In summary, for the Utah revenue outlook, the insights that result from a portfolio of forecasts that includes neural networks exceeds the understanding generated from strictly statistical forecasting techniques. In this case, the synergy clearly results in the whole of the portfolio of forecasts being more accurate than the sum of the individual parts

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Neural Networks, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:8 ,  Issue: 4 )