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Model uncertainty and policy evaluation: some theory and empirics

  • William A. Brock
  • Steven N. Durlauf
  • Kenneth D. West

This paper explores ways to integrate model uncertainty into policy evaluation. We first describe a general framework for the incorporation of model uncertainty into standard econometric calculations. This framework employs Bayesian model averaging methods that have begun to appear in a range of economic studies. Second, we illustrate these general ideas in the context of assessment of simple monetary policy rules for some standard New Keynesian specifications. The specifications vary in their treatment of expectations as well as in the dynamics of output and inflation. We conclude that the Taylor rule has good robustness properties, but may reasonably be challenged in overall quality with respect to stabilization by alternative simple rules that also condition on lagged interest rates, even though these rules employ parameters that are set without accounting for model uncertainty.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in its journal Proceedings.

Volume (Year): (2005)
Issue (Month): ()
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfpr:y:2005:x:6
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  1. Svensson, Lars E.O., 1998. "Inflation Targeting as a Monetary Policy Rule," Seminar Papers 646, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  2. Cogley, Timothy & Sargent, Thomas J., 2005. "The conquest of U.S. inflation: learning and robustness to model uncertainty," Working Paper Series 0478, European Central Bank.
  3. Alexei Onatski & James H. Stock, 2000. "Robust Monetary Policy Under Model Uncertainty in a Small Model of the U.S. Economy," NBER Working Papers 7490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jonathan H. Wright, 2003. "Forecasting U.S. inflation by Bayesian Model Averaging," International Finance Discussion Papers 780, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Michael Woodford, 2003. "Optimal Interest-Rate Smoothing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(4), pages 861-886.
  6. Brock, W.A., 1995. "A Rational Route to Randomness," Working papers 9530, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  7. Andrew T. Levin & John C. Williams, 2003. "Robust monetary policy with competing reference models," Working Paper Series 2003-10, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  8. Epstein, Larry G & Wang, Tan, 1994. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing Under Knightian Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 283-322, March.
  9. Brock,W.A. & Durlauf,S.N. & West,K.D., 2003. "Policy evaluation in uncertain economic environments," Working papers 15, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  10. Glenn D. Rudebusch, 2000. "Assessing nominal income rules for monetary policy with model and data uncertainty," Working Paper Series 2000-03, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  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. 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.
  13. M. Hashem Pesaran, 2000. "Forecast Uncertainties in Macroeconometric Modelling: An Application to the UK Economy," CESifo Working Paper Series 345, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. 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.
  15. Marc P. Giannoni & Michael Woodford, 2003. "Optimal Interest-Rate Rules: I. General Theory," Levine's Bibliography 506439000000000384, UCLA Department of Economics.
  16. Glenn D. Rudebusch & Lars E. O. Svensson, 1998. "Policy Rules for Inflation Targeting," NBER Working Papers 6512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Carmen Fernandez & Eduardo Ley & Mark Steel, 1999. "Model uncertainty in cross-country growth regressions," Econometrics 9903003, EconWPA, revised 06 Oct 2001.
  18. Avramov, Doron, 2002. "Stock return predictability and model uncertainty," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 423-458, June.
  19. Brock, William A. & Durlauf, Steven N., 2005. "Local robustness analysis: Theory and application," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(11), pages 2067-2092, November.
  20. William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf, 2004. "Elements of a Theory of Design Limits to Optimal Policy," NBER Working Papers 10495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Pesaran, M.H. & Pettenuzzo, D. & Timmermann, A., 2004. "‘Forecasting Time Series Subject to Multiple Structural Breaks’," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0433, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  22. Wright, Jonathan H., 2008. "Bayesian Model Averaging and exchange rate forecasts," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 146(2), pages 329-341, October.
  23. Gernot Doppelhofer & Ronald I. Miller & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2000. "Determinants of Long-Term Growth: A Bayesian Averaging of Classical Estimates (BACE) Approach," NBER Working Papers 7750, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Andrew T. Levin & Volker W. Wieland & John C. Williams, 1998. "Robustness of simple monetary policy rules under model uncertainty," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-45, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  25. Thomas J. Sargent & LarsPeter Hansen, 2001. "Robust Control and Model Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 60-66, May.
  26. Marc P. Giannoni, 2007. "Robust optimal monetary policy in a forward-looking model with parameter and shock uncertainty," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(1), pages 179-213.
  27. John B. Taylor, 1999. "Monetary Policy Rules," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number tayl99-1.
  28. Alexei Onatski & Noah Williams, 2003. "Modeling Model Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 9566, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. Marco Del Negro & Frank Schorfheide, 2005. "Policy Predictions if the Model Does Not Fit," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 434-443, 04/05.
  30. 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.
  31. Christopher A. Sims, 2002. "The Role of Models and Probabilities in the Monetary Policy Process," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(2), pages 1-62.
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  33. Mark Salmon & Massimiliano Marcellino, 2001. "Robust Decision Theory and the Lucas Critique," Working Papers wp01-10, Warwick Business School, Finance Group.
  34. 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.
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  36. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 2005. "Certainty equivalence and model uncertainty," Proceedings, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), pages 17-38.
  37. Brock,W.A. & Durlauf,S.N., 2000. "Growth economics and reality," Working papers 24, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  38. Chamberlain, Gary, 2000. "Econometrics and decision theory," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 95(2), pages 255-283, April.
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