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Are policy counterfactuals based on structural VAR's reliable?

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  • Benati, Luca

Abstract

Based on standard New Keynesian models I show that policy counterfactuals based on the theoretical structural VAR representations of the models fail to reliably capture the impact of changes in the parameters of the Taylor rule on the (reduced-form) properties of the economy. Based on estimated models for the Great Inflation and the most recent period, I show that, as a practical matter, the problem appears to be non-negligible. These results imply that the outcomes of SVAR-based policy counterfactuals should be regarded with caution, as their informativeness for the specific issue at hand–e.g., understanding the role played by monetary policy in exacerbating the Great Depression, causing the Great Inflation, or fostering the Great Moderation–is, in principle, open to question. Finally, I argue that SVAR-based policy counterfactuals suffer from a crucial logical shortcoming: given that their reliability crucially depends on unknown structural characteristics of the underlying data generation process, such reliability cannot simply be assumed, and can instead only be ascertained with a reasonable degree of confidence by estimating structural (DSGE) models. JEL Classification: E30, E32

Suggested Citation

  • Benati, Luca, 2010. "Are policy counterfactuals based on structural VAR's reliable?," Working Paper Series 1188, European Central Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20101188
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Gary Koop & M. Hashem Pesaran & Ron P. Smith, 2013. "On Identification of Bayesian DSGE Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(3), pages 300-314, July.
    2. Baumeister, Christiane & Benati, Luca, 2010. "Unconventional monetary policy and the great recession - Estimating the impact of a compression in the yield spread at the zero lower bound," Working Paper Series 1258, European Central Bank.
    3. Benati, Luca, 2011. "Would the Bundesbank have prevented the Great Inflation in the United States?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 1106-1125, July.
    4. Martina Cecioni & Stefano Neri, 2011. "The monetary transmission mechanism in the euro area: has it changed and why?," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 808, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    5. Christiane Baumeister & Luca Benati, 2013. "Unconventional Monetary Policy and the Great Recession: Estimating the Macroeconomic Effects of a Spread Compression at the Zero Lower Bound," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 9(2), pages 165-212, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    DSGE Models; Great Depression; Great Inflation; Great Moderation; Lucas Critique; monetary policy; policy counterfactuals; structural VARs; Taylor rules;

    JEL classification:

    • E30 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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