Sunday, February 19, 2017


Troika is the forecasting process for the federal government; it is called Troika because it is a joint project of Treasury, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Council of Economics Advisors.

Last year, while I was a Senior Advisor at HUD, I got a peek into Troika; I was invited to participate in a meeting to offer a perspective on the US housing market.  I am not going to say much about the details of the meeting, except that the Troika process is very much based on econometric modeling, that the modelers are really good at their jobs, and that the debates about the models are exactly the sorts of the debates one would wish government officials to have.  To give one example, at the meeting I attended, there was a debate about a parameter estimate.

The debate arose from the following conditions: suppose economic theory implies that a parameter b = b*. The estimated parameter b = b*+a.  The standard error of the parameter is 2a.  The debate was whether the forecast should be based on b*, or b*+a.  Needless to say, on could make reasonable arguments either way (showing that no matter how good a modeler is, she needs to rely on judgment at some point).

This is how government forecasting has been done--empirically, rigorously, and without an agenda. It saddens me to think that this is under attack.