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Learning as a Rational Foundation for Macroeconomics and Finance

  • Evans, George W.
  • Honkapohja, Seppo

Expectations play a central role in modern macroeconomics. The econometric learning approach, in line with the cognitive consistency principle, models agents as forming expectations by estimating and updating subjective forecasting models in real time. This approach provides a stability test for RE equilibria and a selection criterion in models with multiple equilibria. Further features of learning, such as discounting of older data, use of misspecified models, or heterogeneous choice by agents between competing models, generate novel learning dynamics. Empirical applications are reviewed and the roles of the planning horizon and structural knowledge are discussed. We develop several applications of learning to macroeconomic policy: the scope of Ricardian equivalence, appropriate specification of interest-rate rules, implementation of price-level targeting to achieve learning-stability of the optimal RE equilibrium and whether under learning price-level targeting can rule out the deflation trap at the zero-lower-bound.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8340.

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Date of creation: Apr 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8340
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  1. William A. Branch & George W. Evans & Bruce McGough, 2010. "Finite Horizon Learning," University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers 2010-15, University of Oregon Economics Department.
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  9. Emiliano Santoro & Damjan Pfajfar, 2006. "Heterogeneity and learning in inflation expectation formation: an empirical assessment," Department of Economics Working Papers 0607, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
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  11. Agnieszka Markiewicz, 2010. "Monetary Policy, Model Uncertainty and Exchange Rate Volatility," CESifo Working Paper Series 2949, CESifo Group Munich.
  12. Chakraborty, Avik & Evans, George W., 2008. "Can perpetual learning explain the forward-premium puzzle?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 477-490, April.
  13. Evans, George W. & Guse, Eran & Honkapohja, Seppo, 2007. "Liquidity Traps, Learning and Stagnation," Kiel Working Papers 1341, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
  14. Chryssi Giannitsarou, 2003. "Heterogeneous Learning," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(4), pages 885-906, October.
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  22. Pfajfar, D., 2012. "Formation of Rationally Heterogeneous Expectations," Discussion Paper 2012-083, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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  24. Alex Brazier & Richard Harrison & Mervyn King & Tony Yates, 2008. "The Danger of Inflating Expectations of Macroeconomic Stability: Heuristic Switching in an Overlapping-Generations Monetary Model," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 4(2), pages 219-254, June.
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  29. Guse, Eran A., 2005. "Stability properties for learning with heterogeneous expectations and multiple equilibria," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(10), pages 1623-1642, October.
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