The role of the log transformation in forecasting economic variables
Lütkepohl, H. and Xu, F. (2012) The role of the log transformation in forecasting economic variables. Empirical Economics, 42 (3). pp. 619-638. ISSN 1435-8921
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1007/s00181-010-0440-1
For forecasting and economic analysis many variables are used in logarithms (logs). In time series analysis, this transformation is often considered to stabilize the variance of a series. We investigate under which conditions taking logs is beneficial for forecasting. Forecasts based on the original series are compared to forecasts based on logs. For a range of economic variables, substantial forecasting improvements from taking logs are found if the log transformation actually stabilizes the variance of the underlying series. Using logs can be damaging for the forecast precision if a stable variance is not achieved.