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Economic Theory and Causal Inference

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  • Kevin Hoover

    (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)

Abstract

Post-Walrasian economics is not a doctrine, but a slogan announcing that something has to change. In this paper, I explore a conservative version of post-Walrasian economics that can be summarized as back to the methodology of Alfred Marshall?s ? particularly to his essay, ?The Present Position of Economics? (1885). The Walrasian approach is a bottom-up, engineering vision: economics must be built on secure foundations of primitive theory, like a building. Marshall?s approach is a top-down, archaelogical vision: the structure of economics must be uncovered starting with the observable facts and empirically determining what lies behind them. Marshall?s methodology places the relationship between theory and empirical tools on center stage. The dominant tools of macroeconometrics are the vector autoregression (VAR) and calibration techniques, which were developed as reactions to two nearly simultaneous reactions to the Cowles-Commission program in econometrics: the Lucas critique and the Sims critique. The various strands of macroeconometrics are examined through the competing Walrasian and Marshallian visions of the role of theory in econometrics. A suggestion for a truly Marshallian (and post-Walrasian) econometrics is then offered.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin Hoover, 2005. "Economic Theory and Causal Inference," Working Papers 64, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:06-4
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    File URL: http://wp.econ.ucdavis.edu/06-4.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Neil R. Ericsson & John S. Irons, 1995. "The Lucas critique in practice: theory without measurement," International Finance Discussion Papers 506, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Jerry L. Jordan, 1992. "Private Forecasting and Government Policy Stability," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 12(1), pages 81-106, Spring/Su.
    3. Sims, Christopher A, 1980. "Macroeconomics and Reality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-48, January.
    4. Granger, C. W. J., 1980. "Testing for causality : A personal viewpoint," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 329-352, May.
    5. Kevin D. Hoover & Stephen J. Perez, 1999. "Data mining reconsidered: encompassing and the general-to-specific approach to specification search," Econometrics Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 2(2), pages 167-191.
    6. Cochrane, John H., 1998. "What do the VARs mean? Measuring the output effects of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 277-300, April.
    7. Leeper, Eric M. & Zha, Tao, 2003. "Modest policy interventions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(8), pages 1673-1700, November.
    8. Selva Demiralp & Kevin D. Hoover, 2003. "Searching for the Causal Structure of a Vector Autoregression," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 65(s1), pages 745-767, December.
    9. Granger, C W J, 1969. "Investigating Causal Relations by Econometric Models and Cross-Spectral Methods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 37(3), pages 424-438, July.
    10. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
    11. Kevin D. Hoover & Stephen J. Perez, 2004. "Truth and Robustness in Cross-country Growth Regressions," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 66(5), pages 765-798, December.
    12. Selva Demiralp & Kevin D. Hoover & Stephen J. Perez, 2008. "A Bootstrap Method for Identifying and Evaluating a Structural Vector Autoregression," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 70(4), pages 509-533, August.
    13. Hausman,Daniel M., 1992. "The Inexact and Separate Science of Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521415019, December.
    14. Spanos, Aris, 1995. "On theory testing in econometrics : Modeling with nonexperimental data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 189-226, May.
    15. James J. Heckman, 2000. "Causal Parameters and Policy Analysis in Economics: A Twentieth Century Retrospective," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(1), pages 45-97.
    16. David F. Hendry & Neil R. Ericsson, 1999. "Encompassing and rational expectations: How sequential corroboration can imply refutation," Empirical Economics, Springer, pages 1-21.
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    18. Cooley, Thomas F. & Leroy, Stephen F., 1985. "Atheoretical macroeconometrics: A critique," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 283-308, November.
    19. Hoover,Kevin D., 2001. "Causality in Macroeconomics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521002882, December.
    20. Sargent, Thomas J. & Wallace, Neil, 1976. "Rational expectations and the theory of economic policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 169-183, April.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Post-Walrasian; Marshall;

    JEL classification:

    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • C10 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - General

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