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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. Brock, W.A. & Hommes, C.H., 1996. "A Rational Route to Randomness," Working papers 9530r, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  2. Edward E. Leamer, 1982. "Let's Take the Con Out of Econometrics," UCLA Economics Working Papers 239, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Glenn D. Rudebusch & Lars E. O. Svensson, 1998. "Policy rules for inflation targeting," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Mar.
  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. Alexei Onatski & Noah Williams, 2003. "Modeling Model Uncertainty," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(5), pages 1087-1122, 09.
  6. Glenn Rudebusch, 2000. "Assessing Nominal Income Rules for Monetary Policy with Model and Data Uncertainty," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0065, Econometric Society.
  7. Marc P. Giannoni & Michael Woodford, 2003. "Optimal Interest-Rate Rules: I. General Theory," Levine's Bibliography 506439000000000384, UCLA Department of Economics.
  8. Pesaran, M Hashem & Pettenuzzo, Davide & Timmermann, Allan G, 2004. "Forecasting Time Series Subject to Multiple Structural Breaks," CEPR Discussion Papers 4636, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Andrew Levin & Volker Wieland & John C. Williams, 1998. "Robustness of Simple Monetary Policy Rules under Model Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 6570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Brock,W.A. & Durlauf,S.N., 2003. "Elements of a theory of design limits to optimal policy," Working papers 25, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Jonathan H. Wright, 2003. "Bayesian Model Averaging and exchange rate forecasts," International Finance Discussion Papers 779, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  15. John C. Williams & Andrew T. Levin, 2003. "Robust Monetary Policy with Competing Reference Models," Computing in Economics and Finance 2003 291, Society for Computational Economics.
  16. Chamberlain, Gary, 2000. "Econometrics and decision theory," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 95(2), pages 255-283, April.
  17. Timothy Cogley & Thomas J. Sargent, 2005. "The conquest of US inflation: Learning and robustness to model uncertainty," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(2), pages 528-563, April.
  18. Thomas J. Sargent & LarsPeter Hansen, 2001. "Robust Control and Model Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 60-66, May.
  19. Svensson, Lars E. O., 1999. "Inflation targeting as a monetary policy rule," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 607-654, June.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. M. Hashem Pesaran, 2000. "Forecast Uncertainties in Macroeconometric Modelling: An Application to the UK Economy," CESifo Working Paper Series 345, CESifo Group Munich.
  23. Michael Woodford, 2003. "Optimal Interest-Rate Smoothing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(4), pages 861-886.
  24. Robert J. Tetlow & Peter von zur Muehlen, 2000. "Robust monetary policy with misspecified models: does model uncertainty always call for attenuated policy?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-28, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  25. Brock,W.A. & Durlauf,S.N., 2004. "Local robustness analysis : theory and application," Working papers 22, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  26. Mark Salmon & Massimiliano Marcellino, 2001. "Robust Decision Theory and the Lucas Critique," Working Papers wp01-10, Warwick Business School, Finance Group.
  27. 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.
  28. William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf & Kenneth D. West, 2003. "Policy Evaluation in Uncertain Economic Environments," NBER Working Papers 10025, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. Carmen Fernandez & Eduardo Ley & Mark Steel, 2001. "Model uncertainty in cross-country growth regressions," Econometrics 0110002, EconWPA.
  30. Epstein, Larry G & Wang, Tan, 1994. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing Under Knightian Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 283-322, March.
  31. repec:cup:macdyn:v:6:y:2002:i:1:p:167-85 is not listed on IDEAS
  32. repec:cup:macdyn:v:6:y:2002:i:1:p:111-44 is not listed on IDEAS
  33. William A. Brock & Steven N.Durlauf, 2000. "Growth Economics and Reality," NBER Working Papers 8041, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  34. Avramov, Doron, 2002. "Stock return predictability and model uncertainty," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 423-458, June.
  35. John B. Taylor, 1999. "Monetary Policy Rules," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number tayl99-1, September.
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
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