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Are policy counterfactuals based on structural VAR's reliable?

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  • Benati, Luca

Abstract

Based on standard New Keynesian models I show that policy counterfactuals based on the theoretical structural VAR representations of the models fail to reliably capture the impact of changes in the parameters of the Taylor rule on the (reduced-form) properties of the economy. Based on estimated models for the Great Inflation and the most recent period, I show that, as a practical matter, the problem appears to be non-negligible. These results imply that the outcomes of SVAR-based policy counterfactuals should be regarded with caution, as their informativeness for the specific issue at hand–e.g., understanding the role played by monetary policy in exacerbating the Great Depression, causing the Great Inflation, or fostering the Great Moderation–is, in principle, open to question. Finally, I argue that SVAR-based policy counterfactuals suffer from a crucial logical shortcoming: given that their reliability crucially depends on unknown structural characteristics of the underlying data generation process, such reliability cannot simply be assumed, and can instead only be ascertained with a reasonable degree of confidence by estimating structural (DSGE) models. JEL Classification: E30, E32

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 1188.

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Date of creation: May 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20101188

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Related research

Keywords: DSGE Models; Great Depression; Great Inflation; Great Moderation; Lucas Critique; monetary policy; policy counterfactuals; structural VARs; Taylor rules;

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References

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  1. Thomas A. Lubik & Frank Schorfheide, 2004. "Testing for Indeterminacy: An Application to U.S. Monetary Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 190-217, March.
  2. Luca Benati, 2008. "Investigating Inflation Persistence Across Monetary Regimes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(3), pages 1005-1060, August.
  3. Benati, Luca & Surico, Paolo, 2008. "VAR analysis and the Great Moderation," Working Paper Series 0866, European Central Bank.
  4. Guido Ascari, 2004. "Staggered prices and trend inflation: some nuisances," Macroeconomics 0404029, EconWPA.
  5. Michael Kiley, 2004. "Is Moderate-To-High Inflation Inherently Unstable?," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 193, Econometric Society.
  6. Richard Clarida & Jordi Gali & Mark Gertler, 1998. "Monetary Policy Rules and Macroeconomic Stability: Evidence and Some Theory," NBER Working Papers 6442, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Christopher A. Sims & Tao Zha, 2005. "Were There Regime Switches in U.S. Monetary Policy?," Working Papers 92, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  8. Canova, Fabio & Gambetti, Luca, 2009. "Structural changes in the US economy: Is there a role for monetary policy?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 477-490, February.
  9. Luca Gambetti & Evi Pappa & Fabio Canova, 2008. "The Structural Dynamics of U.S. Output and Inflation: What Explains the Changes?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 40(2-3), pages 369-388, 03.
  10. Athanasios Orphanides, 2004. "Monetary policy in deflation: the liquidity trap in history and practice," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-01, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  11. Benati, Luca & Goodhart, Charles, 2010. "Monetary Policy Regimes and Economic Performance: The Historical Record, 1979-2008," Handbook of Monetary Economics, in: Benjamin M. Friedman & Michael Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Monetary Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 21, pages 1159-1236 Elsevier.
  12. An, Sungbae & Schorfheide, Frank, 2005. "Bayesian Analysis of DSGE Models," CEPR Discussion Papers 5207, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Benati, Luca, 2011. "Would the Bundesbank have prevented the Great Inflation in the United States?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 1106-1125, July.
  14. Lubik, Thomas A. & Schorfheide, Frank, 2003. "Computing sunspot equilibria in linear rational expectations models," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 273-285, November.
  15. Sims, Christopher A, 1980. "Macroeconomics and Reality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-48, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Benati, Luca, 2011. "Would the Bundesbank have prevented the Great Inflation in the United States?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 1106-1125, July.
  2. Christiane Baumeister & Luca Benati, 2012. "Unconventional Monetary Policy and the Great Recession: Estimating the Macroeconomic Effects of a Spread Compression at the Zero Lower Bound," Working Papers 12-21, Bank of Canada.
  3. Martina Cecioni & Stefano Neri, 2011. "The monetary transmission mechanism in the euro area: has it changed and why?," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 808, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.

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