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Modeling Model Uncertainty

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  • Alexei Onatski

    (Columbia University)

  • Noah Williams

    (Princeton University and NBER)

Abstract

Recently there has been a great deal of interest in studying monetary policy under model uncertainty. We point out that different assumptions about the uncertainty may result in drastically different "robust" policy recommendations. Therefore, we develop new methods to analyze uncertainty about the parameters of a model, the lag specification, the serial correlation of shocks, and the effects of real-time data in one coherent structure. We consider both parametric and nonparametric specifications of this structure and use them to estimate the uncertainty in a small model of the U.S. economy. We then use our estimates to compute robust Bayesian and minimax monetary policy rules, which are designed to perform well in the face of uncertainty. Our results suggest that the aggressiveness recently found in robust policy rules is likely to be caused by overemphasizing uncertainty about economic dynamics at low frequencies. (JEL: E52, C32, D81) Copyright (c) 2003 The European Economic Association.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Journal of the European Economic Association.

Volume (Year): 1 (2003)
Issue (Month): 5 (09)
Pages: 1087-1122

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:1:y:2003:i:5:p:1087-1122

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  1. Söderström, Ulf, 1999. "Monetary policy with uncertain parameters," Working Paper Series 83, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
  2. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
  3. N. Gregory Mankiw & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1986. "News or Noise? An Analysis of GNP Revisions," NBER Working Papers 1939, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Laurence Ball, 1998. "Policy Rules for Open Economies," NBER Working Papers 6760, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Thomas J. Sargent & LarsPeter Hansen, 2001. "Robust Control and Model Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 60-66, May.
  6. Giordani, Paolo & Soderlind, Paul, 2004. "Solution of macromodels with Hansen-Sargent robust policies: some extensions," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 2367-2397, December.
  7. Eric T. Swanson, 2000. "On signal extraction and non-certainty-equivalence in optimal monetary policy rules," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-32, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. J. Rust & J. F. Traub & H. Wozniakowski, 2002. "Is There a Curse of Dimensionality for Contraction Fixed Points in the Worst Case?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 285-329, January.
  9. Christopher A. Sims, 2001. "Pitfalls of a Minimax Approach to Model Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 51-54, May.
  10. Alan S. Blinder, 1997. "Distinguished Lecture on Economics in Government: What Central Bankers Could Learn from Academics--And Vice Versa," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 3-19, Spring.
  11. Alexei Onatski & James H. Stock, 1999. "Robust monetary policy under model uncertainty in a small model of the U.S. economy," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  12. Glenn D. Rudebusch & Lars E. O. Svensson, 1998. "Policy Rules for Inflation Targeting," NBER Working Papers 6512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Taylor, John B., 1993. "Discretion versus policy rules in practice," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 195-214, December.
  14. Andrew T.. Levin & Volker Wieland & John Williams, 1999. "Robustness of Simple Monetary Policy Rules under Model Uncertainty," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 263-318 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. John B. Taylor, 1999. "Monetary Policy Rules," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number tayl99-1, July.
  16. Mccallum, Bennet T., 1988. "Robustness properties of a rule for monetary policy," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 173-203, January.
  17. Glenn D. Rudebusch, 1999. "Is the Fed too timid? Monetary policy in an uncertain world," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 99-05, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  18. Rust, J., 1994. "Using Randomization to Break the Curse of Dimensionality," Working papers 9429, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
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  21. repec:cup:macdyn:v:6:y:2002:i:1:p:85-110 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. William Poole, 1999. "Monetary policy rules?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 3-12.
  23. Peter Isard & Douglas Laxton & Ann-Charlotte Eliasson, 1999. "Simple Monetary Policy Rules Under Model Uncertainty," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 537-577, November.
  24. Athanasios Orphanides, 1998. "Monetary policy rules based on real-time data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-03, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  25. Chib, Siddhartha & Greenberg, Edward, 1994. "Bayes inference in regression models with ARMA (p, q) errors," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1-2), pages 183-206.
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