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Model uncertainty and policy evaluation: some theory and empirics

Listed author(s):
  • 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. 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.
  2. Brock, W.A. & Hommes, C.H., 1996. "A Rational Route to Randomness," Working papers 9530r, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  3. Pesaran, M. Hashem & Pettenuzzo, Davide & Timmermann, Allan, 2004. "Forecasting Time Series Subject to Multiple Structural Breaks," IZA Discussion Papers 1196, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Lars E.O. Svensson, 1998. "Inflation Targeting as a Monetary Policy Rule," NBER Working Papers 6790, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Glenn D. Rudebusch & Lars E. O. Svensson, 1998. "Policy rules for inflation targeting," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 98-03, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  6. Andrew T.. Levin & Volker Wieland & John Williams, 1999. "Robustness of Simple Monetary Policy Rules under Model Uncertainty," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 263-318 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Marco Del Negro & Frank Schorfheide, 2004. "Policy predictions if the model doesn’t fit," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2004-38, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  8. Chamberlain, Gary, 2000. "Econometrics and decision theory," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 95(2), pages 255-283, April.
  9. Garrat, A. & Lee, K. & Pesaran, M.H. & Shin, Y., 2000. "Forecast Uncertainties in Macroeconometric Modelling: An Application to the UK Economy," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0004, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Jonathan H. Wright, 2009. "Forecasting US inflation by Bayesian model averaging," Journal of Forecasting, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(2), pages 131-144.
  13. Thomas J. Sargent & LarsPeter Hansen, 2001. "Robust Control and Model Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 60-66, May.
  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. Mark Salmon & Massimiliano Marcellino, 2001. "Robust Decision Theory and the Lucas Critique," Working Papers wp01-10, Warwick Business School, Finance Group.
  16. 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.
  17. Xavier Sala-I-Martin & Gernot Doppelhofer & Ronald I. Miller, 2004. "Determinants of Long-Term Growth: A Bayesian Averaging of Classical Estimates (BACE) Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 813-835, September.
  18. Brock,W.A. & Durlauf,S.N., 2004. "Local robustness analysis : theory and application," Working papers 22, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  19. 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.
  20. Wright, Jonathan H., 2008. "Bayesian Model Averaging and exchange rate forecasts," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 146(2), pages 329-341, October.
  21. Avramov, Doron, 2002. "Stock return predictability and model uncertainty," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 423-458, June.
  22. Carmen Fernandez & Eduardo Ley & Mark Steel, 2001. "Model uncertainty in cross-country growth regressions," Econometrics 0110002, EconWPA.
  23. 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.
  24. Onatski, Alexei & Williams, Noah, 2002. "Modeling model uncertainty," Working Paper Series 0169, European Central Bank.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. Marc P. Giannoni & Michael Woodford, 2003. "Optimal Interest-Rate Rules: I. General Theory," NBER Working Papers 9419, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. 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.
  30. Levin, Andrew T. & Williams, John C., 2003. "Robust monetary policy with competing reference models," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(5), pages 945-975, July.
  31. Epstein, Larry G & Wang, Tan, 1994. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing Under Knightian Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 283-322, March.
  32. Brock,W.A. & Durlauf,S.N., 2000. "Growth economics and reality," Working papers 24, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  33. Michael Woodford, 2003. "Optimal Interest-Rate Smoothing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(4), pages 861-886.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. repec:cup:macdyn:v:6:y:2002:i:1:p:167-85 is not listed on IDEAS
  37. repec:cup:macdyn:v:6:y:2002:i:1:p:111-44 is not listed on IDEAS
  38. John B. Taylor, 1999. "Monetary Policy Rules," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number tayl99-1, September.
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