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Elements of a Theory of Design Limits to Optimal Policy

  • William A. Brock
  • Steven N. Durlauf

This paper presents a framework for understanding the limits that exist in optimal policy design in dynamic contexts. We consider the design of policies in the context of dynamic linear models. Fundamental design limits exist for policy rules in such environments in the sense that any policy rule embodies tradeoffs between the magnitudes of different frequency-specific components of the variance. Hence policies that are effective in eliminating low frequency variance components of a state variable can only do so at the cost of exacerbating high frequency variance components, and vice versa. Examples of the implications of such tradeoffs are considered. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd and The Victoria University of Manchester, 2004.

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Article provided by University of Manchester in its journal The Manchester School.

Volume (Year): 72 (2004)
Issue (Month): s1 (09)
Pages: 1-18

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Handle: RePEc:bla:manchs:v:72:y:2004:i:s1:p:1-18
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  1. William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf & Kenneth D. West, 2003. "Policy Evaluation in Uncertain Economic Environments," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(1), pages 235-322.
  2. J. Tetlow, Robert & von zur Muehlen, Peter, 2001. "Robust monetary policy with misspecified models: Does model uncertainty always call for attenuated policy?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 25(6-7), pages 911-949, June.
  3. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2002. "Robust Monetary Policy Rules with Unknown Natural Rates," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(2), pages 63-146.
  4. Alexei Onatski & Noah Williams, 2003. "Modeling Model Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 9566, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Barsky, Robert B & Miron, Jeffrey A, 1989. "The Seasonal Cycle and the Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 503-34, June.
  6. Giannoni, Marc P., 2002. "Does Model Uncertainty Justify Caution? Robust Optimal Monetary Policy In A Forward-Looking Model," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(01), pages 111-144, February.
  7. repec:cup:macdyn:v:6:y:2002:i:1:p:111-44 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Otrok, Christopher, 2001. "Spectral Welfare Cost Functions," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(2), pages 345-67, May.
  9. Marcellino, Massimiliano & Salmon, Mark, 2002. "Robust Decision Theory And The Lucas Critique," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(01), pages 167-185, February.
  10. Onatski, Alexei & Stock, James H., 2002. "Robust Monetary Policy Under Model Uncertainty In A Small Model Of The U.S. Economy," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(01), pages 85-110, February.
  11. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 2001. "Acknowledging Misspecification in Macroeconomic Theory," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(3), pages 519-535, July.
  12. John B. Taylor, 1999. "Monetary Policy Rules," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number tayl99-1, November.
  13. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J., 2003. "Robust control of forward-looking models," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 581-604, April.
  14. 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.
  15. repec:cup:macdyn:v:6:y:2002:i:1:p:167-85 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Otrok, C. & Ravikumar, B. & Whiteman, C., 1998. "Habit Formation: A Resolution of the Equity Premium Puzzle?," Working Papers 98-04, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  17. 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.
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