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Modeling Model Uncertainty

  • Alexei Onatski

    (Columbia University)

  • Noah Williams

    (Princeton University and NBER)

Recently there has been a great deal of interest in studying monetary policy under model uncertainty. We point out that different assumptions about the uncertainty may result in drastically different "robust" policy recommendations. Therefore, we develop new methods to analyze uncertainty about the parameters of a model, the lag specification, the serial correlation of shocks, and the effects of real-time data in one coherent structure. We consider both parametric and nonparametric specifications of this structure and use them to estimate the uncertainty in a small model of the U.S. economy. We then use our estimates to compute robust Bayesian and minimax monetary policy rules, which are designed to perform well in the face of uncertainty. Our results suggest that the aggressiveness recently found in robust policy rules is likely to be caused by overemphasizing uncertainty about economic dynamics at low frequencies. (JEL: E52, C32, D81) Copyright (c) 2003 The European Economic Association.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Journal of the European Economic Association.

Volume (Year): 1 (2003)
Issue (Month): 5 (09)
Pages: 1087-1122

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:1:y:2003:i:5:p:1087-1122
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  1. 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.
  2. Söderström, Ulf, 2000. "Monetary policy with uncertain parameters," Working Paper Series 0013, European Central Bank.
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  5. Laurence Ball, 1998. "Policy Rules for Open Economies," NBER Working Papers 6760, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Athanasios Orphanides, 1998. "Monetary policy rules based on real-time data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-03, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Giordani, Paolo & Soderlind, Paul, 2004. "Solution of macromodels with Hansen-Sargent robust policies: some extensions," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 2367-2397, December.
  8. Andrew Levin & Volker 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.).
  9. Chib, Siddhartha & Greenberg, Edward, 1994. "Bayes inference in regression models with ARMA (p, q) errors," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1-2), pages 183-206.
  10. N. Gregory Mankiw & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1986. "News or Noise? An Analysis of GNP Revisions," NBER Working Papers 1939, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Thomas J. Sargent & LarsPeter Hansen, 2001. "Robust Control and Model Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 60-66, May.
  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. Craine, Roger, 1979. "Optimal monetary policy with uncertainty," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 59-83, February.
  15. Eric Swanson, 2000. "On Signal Extraction and Non-Certainty-Equivalence in Optimal Monetary Policy Rules," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1085, Econometric Society.
  16. 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.
  17. Peter Isard & Douglas Laxton & Ann-Charlotte Eliasson, 1999. "Simple Monetary Policy Rules Under Model Uncertainty," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 537-577, November.
  18. Gary Chamberlain, 2000. "Econometric applications of maxmin expected utility," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(6), pages 625-644.
  19. John B. Taylor, 1999. "Monetary Policy Rules," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number tayl99-1.
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  24. Glenn D. Rudebusch, 2001. "Is The Fed Too Timid? Monetary Policy In An Uncertain World," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 203-217, May.
  25. 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.
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