Are CGE Models still useful in economic policy making?
This paper develops background considerations to help better framing the results of a CGE exercise. Three main criticisms are usually addressed to CGE efforts. First, they are too aggregate, their conclusions failing to shed light on relevant sectors or issues. Second, they imply huge data requirements. Timeliness is frequently jeopardised by out-dated sources, benchmarks referring to realities gone by. Finally, results are meaningless, as they answer wrong or ill-posed questions. Modelling demands end up by creating a rather artificial context, where the original questions lose content. In spite of a positive outlook on the first two, crucial questions lie in the third point. After elaborating such questions, and trying to answer some, the text argues that CGE models can come closer to reality. If their use is still scarce to give way to a fruitful symbiosis between negotiations and simulation results, they remain the only available technique providing a global, inter-related way of capturing economy-wide effects of several different policies. International organisations can play a major role supporting and encouraging improvements. They are also uniquely positioned to enhance information and data sharing, as well as putting people from various origins together, to share their experiences. A serious and complex homework is however required, to correct, at least, the most dangerous present shortcomings of the technique.
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