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VAR analysis and the Great Moderation

  • Benati, Luca
  • Surico, Paolo

Most analyses of the U.S. Great Moderation have been based on structural VAR methods, and have consistently pointed towards good luck as the main explanation for the greater macroeconomic stability of recent years. Based on an estimated New-Keynesian model in which the only source of change is the move from passive to active monetary policy, we show that VARs may misinterpret good policy for good luck. First, the policy shift is suficient to generate decreases in the theoretical innovation variances for all series, and decreases in the variances of inflation and the output gap, without any need of sunspot shocks. With sunspots, the estimated model exhibits decreases in both variances and innovation variances for all series. Second, policy counterfactuals based on the theoretical structural VAR representations of the model under the two regimes fail to capture the truth, whereas impulse-response functions to a monetary policy shock exhibit little change across regimes. Since these results are in line with those found in the structural VARbased literature on the Great Moderation, our analysis suggests that existing VAR evidence is compatible with the ‘good policy’ explanation of the Great Moderation. JEL Classification: E38, E52

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Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 0866.

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Date of creation: Feb 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20080866
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  1. Jean Boivin & Marc P. Giannoni, 2006. "Has Monetary Policy Become More Effective?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(3), pages 445-462, August.
  2. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 2005. "Nominal Rigidities and the Dynamic Effects of a Shock to Monetary Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 1-45, February.
  3. Christopher A. Sims & Tao Zha, 2006. "Were There Regime Switches in U.S. Monetary Policy?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 54-81, March.
  4. Troy Davig & Eric M. Leeper, 2005. "Generalizing the Taylor Principle," NBER Working Papers 11874, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Fabio Canova & Luca Gambetti, 2010. "Do Expectations Matter? The Great Moderation Revisited," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 183-205, July.
  6. Richard Clarida & Jordi Galí & Mark Gertler, 2000. "Monetary Policy Rules And Macroeconomic Stability: Evidence And Some Theory," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(1), pages 147-180, February.
  7. Benati, Luca, 2008. "Investigating inflation persistence across monetary regimes," Working Paper Series 0851, European Central Bank.
  8. Luca Gambetti & Evi Pappa & Fabio Canova, 2005. "The structural dynamics of US output and inflation: What explains the changes?," Economics Working Papers 921, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  9. Sims, Christopher A, 2002. "Solving Linear Rational Expectations Models," Computational Economics, Society for Computational Economics, vol. 20(1-2), pages 1-20, October.
  10. Sungbae An & Frank Schorfheide, 2006. "Bayesian analysis of DSGE models," Working Papers 06-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  11. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2003. "Has the Business Cycle Changed and Why?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2002, Volume 17, pages 159-230 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Goffe, William L. & Ferrier, Gary D. & Rogers, John, 1994. "Global optimization of statistical functions with simulated annealing," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1-2), pages 65-99.
  13. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
  14. Lubik, Thomas A. & Schorfheide, Frank, 2003. "Computing sunspot equilibria in linear rational expectations models," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 273-285, November.
  15. Leeper, Eric M., 1991. "Equilibria under 'active' and 'passive' monetary and fiscal policies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 129-147, February.
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