Output Gap Measurement and Prospects in the Wake of the Crisis

Different concepts of potential GDP

For serious macroeconomists, the magnitude (or existence) of the output gap is a central factor for determining the appropriate policy actions (see for instance Weidner and Williams). In several recent posts, I’ve discussed the variety of approaches to estimating the output gap [0] [1]. A recent symposium on Projecting Potential Growth published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is an excellent resource for anybody who wants to think seriously and carefully about the challenges in estimating this variable. In the lead article entitled “What Do We Know (And Not Know) About Potential Output?”, the authors Susanto Basu and John Fernald write: