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Decision making in times of Knightian uncertainty: An info-gap perspective


  • Ben-Haim, Yakov
  • Demertzis, Maria


The distinction of risk vs uncertainty as made by Knight has important implications for policy selection. Assuming the former when the latter is relevant can lead to wrong decisions. With the aid of a stylized model that describes a bank's decision on how to allocate loans, the authors discuss policy insights for decision making under Knightian uncertainty. They use the info-gap robust satisficing approach to derive a trade-off between confidence and performance (analogous to confidence intervals in the Bayesian approach but without assignment of probabilities). The authors show that this trade off can be interpreted as a cost of robustness. They show that the robustness analysis can lead to a reversal of policy preference from the putative optimum. The authors then compare this approach to the min-max method which is the other main non-probabilistic approach available in the literature. They also consider conceptual proxies for robustness and demonstrate their use in qualitative analysis of financial architecture and monetary policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Ben-Haim, Yakov & Demertzis, Maria, 2016. "Decision making in times of Knightian uncertainty: An info-gap perspective," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 10, pages 1-30.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifweej:201623

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Yakov Ben-Haim & Maria Demertzis, 2008. "Confidence in Monetary Policy," DNB Working Papers 192, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    2. Hildebrandt, Patrick & Knoke, Thomas, 2011. "Investment decisions under uncertainty--A methodological review on forest science studies," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 1-15, January.
    3. Herbert A. Simon, 1955. "A Behavioral Model of Rational Choice," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 99-118.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yakov Ben-Haim & Maria Demertzis & Jan Willem Van den End, 2017. "Fundamental uncertainty and unconventional monetary policy: an info-gap approach," DNB Working Papers 544, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.

    More about this item


    uncertainty vs risk; confidence; robustness; satisficing; info-gap;

    JEL classification:

    • C02 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General - - - Mathematical Economics
    • C18 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Methodolical Issues: General
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • G10 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)


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