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Subjective Models of the Macroeconomy: Evidence from Experts and a Representative Sample

Author

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  • Peter Andre
  • Carlo Pizzinelli
  • Christopher Roth
  • Johannes Wohlfart

Abstract

We propose a method to measure people’s subjective models of the macroeconomy. Using a sample of 2,200 households representative of the US population and a sample of more than 1,000 experts, we measure beliefs about how the unemployment rate and the inflation rate respond to four different hypothetical exogenous shocks: a monetary policy shock, a government spending shock, an income tax shock, and an oil price shock. While expert predictions are quantitatively close to benchmarks from standard DSGE models and VAR evidence and relatively homogeneous, there is strong heterogeneity among households. Households predict changes in unemployment that are largely in line with the experts’ responses for all four shocks. However, their predictions of changes in inflation are at odds with those of experts both for the tax shock and the interest rate shock. We show that a substantial fraction of deviations of household predictions from expert predictions can be explained by the use of a simple heuristic according to which people expect a positive co-movement among variables they perceive as good and among variables they perceive as bad. Our findings inform the validity of central assumptions about the expectation formation process and have important implications for the optimal design of fiscal and monetary policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Andre & Carlo Pizzinelli & Christopher Roth & Johannes Wohlfart, 2019. "Subjective Models of the Macroeconomy: Evidence from Experts and a Representative Sample," CESifo Working Paper Series 7850, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_7850
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Haaland, Ingar & Roth, Christopher & Wohlfart. Johannes, 2020. "Designing Information Provision Experiments," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1275, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    2. Coibion, Olivier & Gorodnichenko, Yuriy & Weber, Michael, 2020. "Does Policy Communication during COVID-19 Work?," IZA Discussion Papers 13355, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Olivier Coibion & Dimitris Georgarakos & Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Michael Weber, 2020. "Forward Guidance and Household Expectations," Working Papers 2020-07, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
    4. Egor Starkov, 2020. "Only Time Will Tell: Credible Dynamic Signaling," Discussion Papers 20-05, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    5. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Michael Weber, 2019. "Monetary Policy Communications and their Effects on Household Inflation Expectations," NBER Working Papers 25482, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Francesco D'Acunto & Daniel Hoang & Maritta Paloviita & Michael Weber, 2020. "Effective Policy Communication: Targets versus Instruments," Working Papers 2020-148, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
    7. Bernardo Candia & Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2020. "Communication and the Beliefs of Economic Agents," NBER Working Papers 27800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Laudenbach, Christine & Loos, Benjamin & Pirschel, Jenny & Wohlfart, Johannes, 2020. "The trading response of individual investors to local bankruptcies," SAFE Working Paper Series 272, Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE.
    9. Christine Laudenbach & Benjamin Loos & Jenny Pirschel & Johannes Wohlfart, 2020. "The Trading Response of Individual Investors to Local Bankruptcies," CESifo Working Paper Series 8191, CESifo.
    10. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Michael Weber, 2020. "Does Policy Communication During COVID Work?," Working Papers 2020-76, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
    11. Arnemann, Laura & Konrad, Kai A. & Potrafke, Niklas, 2021. "Collective Memories on the 2010 European Debt Crisis ," CEPR Discussion Papers 15683, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Goldfayn-Frank, Olga & Wohlfart, Johannes, 2020. "Expectation formation in a new environment: Evidence from the German reunification," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 301-320.
    13. Conrad, Christian & Enders, Zeno & Glas, Alexander, 2020. "The role of information and experience for households' inflation expectations," Working Papers 20, German Research Foundation's Priority Programme 1859 "Experience and Expectation. Historical Foundations of Economic Behaviour", Humboldt University Berlin.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    expectation formation; subjective models; macroeconomic shocks; monetary policy; fiscal policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions

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