Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #921

The Investment Narrative – Improving Private Investment Forecasts with Media Data

by Boris Blagov, Henrik Müller, Carsten Jentsch and Torsten Schmidt

TUD, RWI, 09/2021, 30 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-96973-067-6 DOI: 10.4419/96973067



Corporate investment in Germany has been relatively weak for a prolonged period after the financial crisis. This was remarkable given that interest rates and overall economic activity, important determinants of corporate investment, developed quite favourably during that time. These developments highlight the fact that the dynamics of business cycles varies over time: each cycle is somewhat different. A promising new line of research to identify the driving factors of business cycles is the use of narratives (Shiller 2017, 2020). Widely shared stories capture expectations and beliefs about the workings of the economy that may influence economic behavior, such as investment decisions. In this paper, we use Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) to identify topics from news (text) data related to corporate investment in Germany and to construct suitable indicators. Furthermore, we focus on isolating those investment narratives that show the potential to lead to substantial improvement of the forecasting performance of econometric models. In our analysis, we demonstrate the benefit of using media-based indicators to improve econometric forecasts of business equipment investment. Newspaper data carries important information both on the future developments of investment (forecasting) as well as on current developments (nowcasting). Moreover, the identified investment narrative enables the researcher to improve her/his understanding of the investment process in general and allows to incorporate exogenous developments as well as economic sentiment, news and other relevant events to the analysis.

JEL-Classification: C53, C82, E32

Keywords: Narrative economics; mixed-frequency; nowcasting via media data