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Economics and reality

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  • Uhlig, Harald

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 of 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 is 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Uhlig, Harald, 2012. "Economics and reality," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 29-41.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jmacro:v:34:y:2012:i:1:p:29-41
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jmacro.2010.09.008
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Uhlig, Harald, 2005. "What are the effects of monetary policy on output? Results from an agnostic identification procedure," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 381-419, March.
    2. McCloskey, Donald N, 1983. "The Rhetoric of Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 481-517, June.
    3. Donald F. Cunningham & Patric H. Hendershott, 1984. "Pricing FHA Mortgage Default Insurance," NBER Working Papers 1382, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. 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.
    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. 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.
    7. Leamer, Edward E, 1983. "Let's Take the Con Out of Econometrics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 31-43, March.
    8. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-1370, November.
    9. Sims, Christopher A, 1980. "Macroeconomics and Reality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-48, January.
    10. 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.
    11. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
    12. 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, September.
    13. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 2007. "Introduction to Robustness," Introductory Chapters,in: Robustness Princeton University Press.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ramey, V.A., 2016. "Macroeconomic Shocks and Their Propagation," Handbook of Macroeconomics, Elsevier.
    2. Marek Rusnak & Tomas Havranek & Roman Horvath, 2013. "How to Solve the Price Puzzle? A Meta‐Analysis," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 45(1), pages 37-70, February.
    3. Tony Lawson, 2014. "Modelación matemática e ideología en la economía académica," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 16(30), pages 25-51, January-J.
    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.
    5. Dieter Bögenhold, 2014. "Schumpeter’s Idea of a Universal Social Science," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 42(2), pages 205-215, June.
    6. Bögenhold, Dieter, 2014. "Schumpeter's Idea of a Universal Science," MPRA Paper 58115, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Russell, Bill, 2013. "Macroeconomics: Science or Faith Based Discipline?," SIRE Discussion Papers 2013-114, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    8. Favero, Carlo A. & Karamysheva, Madina, 2015. "What Do We Know About Fiscal Multipliers?," CEPR Discussion Papers 10986, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Antonia López-Villavicencio & Valérie Mignon, 2013. "Nonlinearity of the inflation-output trade-off and time-varying price rigidity," Working Papers 2013-02, CEPII research center.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Macroeconomics; Reality; Theory; Empirical evidence;

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • B13 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Neoclassical through 1925 (Austrian, Marshallian, Walrasian, Wicksellian)
    • B22 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Macroeconomics
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • D40 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - General
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy

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