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Are Sunspots Learnable? An Experimental Investigation in a Simple General-Equilibrium Model

Author

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  • Jasmina Arifovic
  • George Evans
  • Olena Kostyshyna

Abstract

We conduct experiments with human subjects in a model with a positive production externality in which productivity is a non-decreasing function of the average level of employment of other firms. The model has three steady states: the low and high steady states are expectationally stable (E-stable), and thus locally stable under learning, while the middle steady state is not E-stable. There also exists a locally E-stable sunspot equilibrium that fluctuates between the high and low steady states. Steady states are payoff ranked: low values give lower profits than higher values. We investigate whether subjects in our experimental economies can learn a sunspot equilibrium. Our experimental design has two treatments: one in which payoff is based on the firm’s profits, and the other in which payoff is based on the forecast squared error. We observe coordination on the extrinsic announcements in both treatments. In the treatments with forecast squared error, the average employment and average forecasts of subjects are closer to the equilibrium corresponding to the announcement. Cases of apparent convergence to the low and high steady states are also observed.

Suggested Citation

  • Jasmina Arifovic & George Evans & Olena Kostyshyna, 2013. "Are Sunspots Learnable? An Experimental Investigation in a Simple General-Equilibrium Model," Staff Working Papers 13-14, Bank of Canada.
  • Handle: RePEc:bca:bocawp:13-14
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Fehr, Dietmar & Heinemann, Frank & Llorente-Saguer, Aniol, 2019. "The power of sunspots: An experimental analysis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 123-136.
    2. Pietro Battiston & Sharon G. Harrison, 2019. "Believe it or not: Experimental Evidence on Sunspot Equilibria with Social Networks," Working Papers 422, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Nov 2019.
    3. Camille Cornand & Frank Heinemann, 2018. "Experiments on macroeconomics: methods and applications," Working Papers halshs-01809937, HAL.
    4. Camille Cornand & Frank Heinemann, 2018. "Experiments on macroeconomics: methods and applications," Post-Print halshs-01809937, HAL.
    5. Siebert, Jan & Yang, Guanzhong, 2021. "Coordination problems triggered by sunspots in the laboratory," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 94(C).
    6. Luba Petersen & Jasmina Arifovic, 2015. "Escaping Expectations-Driven Liquidity Traps: Experimental Evidence," Discussion Papers dp15-03, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
    7. Siebert, Jan & Yang, Guanzhong, 2020. "Coordination problems triggered by sunspots in the laboratory," Ruhr Economic Papers 848, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    8. Arifovic, Jasmina & Hommes, Cars & Salle, Isabelle, 2019. "Learning to believe in simple equilibria in a complex OLG economy - evidence from the lab," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 183(C), pages 106-182.
    9. Siebert, Jan & Yang, Guanzhong, 2017. "Discoordination and miscoordination caused by sunspots in the laboratory," Working Papers on East Asian Studies 114/2017, University of Duisburg-Essen, Institute of East Asian Studies IN-EAST.
    10. Bizer, Kilian & Meub, Lukas & Proeger, Till & Spiwoks, Markus, 2014. "Strategic coordination in forecasting: An experimental study," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 195, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economic models;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • G20 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - General

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