IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Tipping points in macroeconomic Agent-Based models

Listed author(s):
  • Stanislao Gualdi
  • Marco Tarzia
  • Francesco Zamponi
  • Jean-Philippe Bouchaud
Registered author(s):

    The aim of this work is to explore the possible types of phenomena that simple macroeconomic Agent-Based models (ABM) can reproduce. We propose a methodology, inspired by statistical physics, that characterizes a model through its 'phase diagram' in the space of parameters. Our first motivation is to understand the large macro-economic fluctuations observed in the 'Mark I' ABM. Our major finding is the generic existence of a phase transition between a 'good economy' where unemployment is low, and a 'bad economy' where unemployment is high. We introduce a simpler framework that allows us to show that this transition is robust against many modifications of the model, and is generically induced by an asymmetry between the rate of hiring and the rate of firing of the firms. The unemployment level remains small until a tipping point, beyond which the economy suddenly collapses. If the parameters are such that the system is close to this transition, any small fluctuation is amplified as the system jumps between the two equilibria. We have explored several natural extensions of the model. One is to introduce a bankruptcy threshold, limiting the leverage of firms. This leads to a rich phase diagram with, in particular, a region where acute endogenous crises occur, during which the unemployment rate shoots up before the economy can recover. We also introduce simple wage policies. This leads to inflation (in the 'good' phase) or deflation (in the 'bad' phase), but leaves the overall phase diagram of the model essentially unchanged. We have also started exploring the effect of simple monetary policies that attempt to contain rising unemployment and defang crises. We end the paper with general comments on the usefulness of ABMs to model macroeconomic phenomena, in particular in view of the time needed to reach a steady state that raises the issue of ergodicity in these models.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    File Function: Latest version
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by in its series Papers with number 1307.5319.

    in new window

    Date of creation: Jul 2013
    Date of revision: Aug 2014
    Publication status: Published in Journal of Economic Dynamics & Control 50, 29-61 (2015)
    Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1307.5319
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1307.5319. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (arXiv administrators)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.