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Real-time model uncertainty in the United States: the Fed from 1996-2003

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  • Robert J. Tetlow
  • Brian Ironside

Abstract

We study 30 vintages of FRB/US, the principal macro model used by the Federal Reserve Board staff for forecasting and policy analysis. To do this, we exploit archives of the model code, coefficients, baseline databases and stochastic shock sets stored after each FOMC meeting from the model's inception in July 1996 until November 2003. The period of study was one of important changes in the U.S. economy with a productivity boom, a stock market boom and bust, a recession, the Asia crisis, the Russian debt default, and an abrupt change in fiscal policy. We document the surprisingly large and consequential changes in model properties that occurred during this period and compute optimal Taylor-type rules for each vintage. We compare these optimal rules against plausible alternatives. Model uncertainty is shown to be a substantial problem; the efficacy of purportedly optimal policy rules should not be taken on faith. We also find that previous findings that simple rules are robust to model uncertainty may be an overly sanguine conclusion.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2006-08.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2006-08

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Keywords: Monetary policy ; Uncertainty ; Economic forecasting;

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Cited by:
  1. Ellison, Martin & Sargent, Thomas J, 2009. "A defence of the FOMC," CEPR Discussion Papers 7510, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    • Martin Ellison & Thomas J. Sargent, 2012. "A Defense Of The Fomc," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 53(4), pages 1047-1065, November.
  2. Cimadomo, Jacopo, 2008. "Fiscal policy in real time," Working Paper Series 0919, European Central Bank.
  3. Faust, Jon & Wright, Jonathan H., 2008. "Efficient forecast tests for conditional policy forecasts," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 146(2), pages 293-303, October.
  4. Kerstin Bernoth & Andrew Hughes Hallet & John Lewis, 2008. "Did fiscal policy makers know what they were doing? Reassessing fiscal policy with real-time data," DNB Working Papers 169, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.

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