Author Archive

Cointegration or spurious regression?

\(\newcommand{\betab}{\boldsymbol{\beta}}\)Time-series data often appear nonstationary and also tend to comove. A set of nonstationary series that are cointegrated implies existence of a long-run equilibrium relation. If such an equlibrium does not exist, then the apparent comovement is spurious and no meaningful interpretation ensues.

Analyzing multiple nonstationary time series that are cointegrated provides useful insights about their long-run behavior. Consider long- and short-term interest rates such as the yield on a 30-year and a 3-month U.S. Treasury bond. According to the expectations hypothesis, long-term interest rates are determined by the average of expected future short-term rates. This implies that the yields on the two bonds cannot deviate from one another over time. Thus, if the two yields are cointegrated, any influence to the short-term rate leads to adjustments in the long-term interest rate. This has important implications in making various policy or investment decisions.

In a cointegration analysis, we begin by regressing a nonstationary variable on a set of other nonstationary variables. Suprisingly, in finite samples, regressing a nonstationary series with another arbitrary nonstationary series usually results in significant coefficients with a high \(R^2\). This gives a false impression that the series may be cointegrated, a phenomenon commonly known as spurious regression.

In this post, I use simulated data to show the asymptotic properties of an ordinary least-squares (OLS) estimator under cointegration and spurious regression. I then perform a test for cointegration using the Engle and Granger (1987) method. These exercises provide a good first step toward understanding cointegrated processes. Read more…

Unit-root tests in Stata

\newcommand{\betab}{\boldsymbol{\beta}}\)Determining the stationarity of a time series is a key step before embarking on any analysis. The statistical properties of most estimators in time series rely on the data being (weakly) stationary. Loosely speaking, a weakly stationary process is characterized by a time-invariant mean, variance, and autocovariance.

In most observed series, however, the presence of a trend component results in the series being nonstationary. Furthermore, the trend can be either deterministic or stochastic, depending on which appropriate transformations must be applied to obtain a stationary series. For example, a stochastic trend, or commonly known as a unit root, is eliminated by differencing the series. However, differencing a series that in fact contains a deterministic trend results in a unit root in the moving-average process. Similarly, subtracting a deterministic trend from a series that in fact contains a stochastic trend does not render a stationary series. Hence, it is important to identify whether nonstationarity is due to a deterministic or a stochastic trend before applying the proper transformations.

In this post, Read more…

Tests of forecast accuracy and forecast encompassing

\newcommand{\betab}{\boldsymbol{\beta}}\)Applied time-series researchers often want to compare the accuracy of a pair of competing forecasts. A popular statistic for forecast comparison is the mean squared forecast error (MSFE), a smaller value of which implies a better forecast. However, a formal test, such as Diebold and Mariano (1995), distinguishes whether the superiority of one forecast is statistically significant or is simply due to sampling variability.

A related test is the forecast encompassing test. This test is used to determine whether one of the forecasts encompasses all the relevant information from the other. The resulting test statistic may lead a researcher to either combine the two forecasts or drop the forecast that contains no additional information.

In this post, Read more…

ARMA processes with nonnormal disturbances

Autoregressive (AR) and moving-average (MA) models are combined to obtain ARMA models. The parameters of an ARMA model are typically estimated by maximizing a likelihood function assuming independently and identically distributed Gaussian errors. This is a rather strict assumption. If the underlying distribution of the error is nonnormal, does maximum likelihood estimation still work? The short answer is yes under certain regularity conditions and the estimator is known as the quasi-maximum likelihood estimator (QMLE) (White 1982).

In this post, I use Monte Carlo Simulations (MCS) to verify that the QMLE of a stationary and invertible ARMA model is consistent and asymptotically normal. See Yao and Brockwell (2006) for a formal proof. For an overview of performing MCS in Stata, refer to Monte Carlo simulations using Stata. Also see A simulation-based explanation of consistency and asymptotic normality for a discussion of performing such an exercise in Stata.


Let’s begin by Read more…

Vector autoregression—simulation, estimation, and inference in Stata

\newcommand{\Phat}{\hat{{\bf P}}}\)Vector autoregression (VAR) is a useful tool for analyzing the dynamics of multiple time series. VAR expresses a vector of observed variables as a function of its own lags.


Let’s begin by simulating a bivariate VAR(2) process using the following specification,

\begin{bmatrix} y_{1,t}\\ y_{2,t}
= \mub + {\bf A}_1 \begin{bmatrix} y_{1,t-1}\\ y_{2,t-1}
\end{bmatrix} + {\bf A}_2 \begin{bmatrix} y_{1,t-2}\\ y_{2,t-2}
\end{bmatrix} + \epsb_t

where \(y_{1,t}\) and \(y_{2,t}\) are the observed series at time \(t\), \(\mub\) is a \(2 \times 1\) vector of intercepts, \({\bf A}_1\) and \({\bf A}_2\) are \(2\times 2\) parameter matrices, and \(\epsb_t\) is a \(2\times 1\) vector of innovations that is uncorrelated over time. I assume a \(N({\bf 0},\Sigmab)\) distribution for the innovations \(\epsb_t\), where \(\Sigmab\) is a \(2\times 2\) covariance matrix.

I set my sample size to 1,100 and Read more…

Handling gaps in time series using business calendars

Time-series data, such as financial data, often have known gaps because there are no observations on days such as weekends or holidays. Using regular Stata datetime formats with time-series data that have gaps can result in misleading analysis. Rather than treating these gaps as missing values, we should adjust our calculations appropriately. I illustrate a convenient way to work with irregularly spaced dates by using Stata’s business calendars.

In nasdaq.dta, I have daily data on Read more…

A tour of datetime in Stata

Converting a string date

Stata has a wide array of tools to work with dates. You can have dates in years, months, or even milliseconds. In this post, I will provide a brief tour of working with dates that will help you get started using all of Stata’s tools.

When you load a dataset, you will notice that every variable has a display format. For date variables, the display format is %td for daily dates, %tm for monthly dates, etc. Let’s load the wpi1 dataset as Read more…

Estimating parameters by maximum likelihood and method of moments using mlexp and gmm

\newcommand{\xb}{{\bf x}}
\newcommand{\xbit}{{\bf x}_{it}}
\newcommand{\xbi}{{\bf x}_{i}}
\newcommand{\zb}{{\bf z}}
\newcommand{\zbi}{{\bf z}_i}
\newcommand{\wb}{{\bf w}}
\newcommand{\yb}{{\bf y}}
\newcommand{\ub}{{\bf u}}
\newcommand{\Gb}{{\bf G}}
\newcommand{\Hb}{{\bf H}}
\newcommand{\XBI}{{\bf x}_{i1},\ldots,{\bf x}_{iT}}
\newcommand{\Sb}{{\bf S}} \newcommand{\Xb}{{\bf X}}
\newcommand{\Xtb}{\tilde{\bf X}}
\newcommand{\Wb}{{\bf W}}
\newcommand{\Ab}{{\bf A}}
\newcommand{\Bb}{{\bf B}}
\newcommand{\Zb}{{\bf Z}}
\newcommand{\Eb}{{\bf E}}\) This post was written jointly with Joerg Luedicke, Senior Social Scientist and Statistician, StataCorp.


We provide an introduction to parameter estimation by maximum likelihood and method of moments using mlexp and gmm, respectively (see [R] mlexp and [R] gmm). We include some background about these estimation techniques; see Pawitan (2001, Casella and Berger (2002), Cameron and Trivedi (2005), and Wooldridge (2010) for more details.

Maximum likelihood (ML) estimation finds the parameter values that make the observed data most probable. The parameters maximize the log of the likelihood function that specifies the probability of observing a particular set of data given a model.

Method of moments (MM) estimators specify population moment conditions and find the parameters that solve the equivalent sample moment conditions. MM estimators usually place fewer restrictions on the model than ML estimators, which implies that MM estimators are less efficient but more robust than ML estimators. Read more…