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Economics and Reality

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  • Harald Uhlig

Abstract

This paper is a non-technical and somewhat philosophical essay, that seeks to investigate the relationship between economics and reality. More precisely, it asks how reality in the form empirical evidence does or does not influence economic thinking and theory. In particular, which role do calibration, statistical inference, and structural change play? What is the current state of affairs, what are the successes and failures, what are the challenges? I shall tackle these questions moving from general to specific. For the general perspective, I examine the following four points of view. First, economics is a science. Second, economics is an art. Third, economics is a competition. Forth, economics politics. I then examine four specific cases for illustration and debate. First, is there a Phillips curve? Second, are prices sticky? Third, does contractionary monetary policy lead to a contraction in output? Forth, what causes business cycles? The general points as well as the specific cases each have their own implication for the central question at hand. Armed with this list of implications, I shall then attempt to draw a summary conclusion and provide an overall answer.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16416.

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Date of creation: Sep 2010
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Publication status: published as Uhlig, Harald, 2012. "Economics and reality," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 29-41.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16416

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  1. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
  2. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 2007. "Introduction to Robustness," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
  3. Sims, Christopher A, 1980. "Macroeconomics and Reality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-48, January.
  4. Uhlig, H.F.H.V.S., 1999. "What are the Effects of Monetary Policy on Output? Results from an Agnostic Identification Procedure," Discussion Paper 1999-28, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  5. Lars Peter Hansen & James J. Heckman, 1996. "The Empirical Foundations of Calibration," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 87-104, Winter.
  6. Frank Smets & Raf Wouters, 2003. "An Estimated Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium Model of the Euro Area," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(5), pages 1123-1175, 09.
  7. McCloskey, Donald N, 1983. "The Rhetoric of Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 481-517, June.
  8. Edward E. Leamer, 1982. "Let's Take the Con Out of Econometrics," UCLA Economics Working Papers 239, UCLA Department of Economics.
  9. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  10. Smith, Adam, 1977. "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226763743 edited by Cannan, Edwin, June.
  11. Donald F. Cunningham & Patric H. Hendershott, 1984. "Pricing FHA Mortgage Default Insurance," NBER Working Papers 1382, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Sims, Christopher A., 1992. "Interpreting the macroeconomic time series facts : The effects of monetary policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 975-1000, June.
  13. Rotemberg, Julio J., 2005. "Customer anger at price increases, changes in the frequency of price adjustment and monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 829-852, May.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Economics and facts
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2012-01-16 17:00:00
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Cited by:
  1. Marek Rusnák & Tomáš Havránek & Roman Horváth, 2011. "How to Solve the Price Puzzle? A Meta-Analysis," Working Papers IES 2011/24, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, revised Jul 2011.
  2. Bill Russell, 2013. "Macroeconomics: science or faith based discipline?," Dundee Discussion Papers in Economics 276, Economic Studies, University of Dundee.
  3. Antonia López-Villavicencio & Valérie Mignon, 2013. "Nonlinearity of the inflation-output trade-off and time-varying price rigidity," EconomiX Working Papers 2013-1, University of Paris West - Nanterre la Défense, EconomiX.
  4. Maritta Paloviita and Matti Viren, 2012. "Analyzing the relationships between survey forecasts for different variables and countries," Discussion Papers 76, Aboa Centre for Economics.

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  1. Economic Logic blog

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