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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. 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.
  2. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles Evans, 2001. "Nominal rigidities and the dynamic effects of a shock to monetary policy," Working Paper 0107, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
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  4. Clarida, R. & Gali, J. & Gertler, M., 1998. "Monetary Policy Rules and Macroeconomic Stability: Evidence and some Theory," Working Papers 98-01, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
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  10. 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.
  11. Luca Gambetti & Evi Pappa & Fabio Canova, 2008. "The Structural Dynamics of U.S. Output and Inflation: What Explains the Changes?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 40(2-3), pages 369-388, 03.
  12. 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.
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  15. Benati, Luca, 2008. "Investigating inflation persistence across monetary regimes," Working Paper Series 0851, European Central Bank.
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