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Prior parameter uncertainty: Some implications for forecasting and policy analysis with VAR models

  • John C. Robertson
  • Ellis W. Tallman

Models used for policy analysis should generate reliable unconditional forecasts as well as policy simulations (conditional forecasts) that are based on a structural model of the economy. Vector autoregression (VAR) models have been criticized for having inaccurate forecasts as well as being difficult to interpret in the context of an underlying economic model. In this paper, we examine how the treatment of prior uncertainty about parameter values can affect forecasting accuracy and the interpretation of identified structural VAR models. ; Typically, VAR models are specified with long lag orders and a diffuse prior about the unrestricted coefficients. We find evidence that alternatives that emphasize nonstationary aspects of the data as well as parsimony in parameterization have better out-of-sample forecast performance and smoother and more persistent responses to a given exogenous monetary policy change than do unrestricted VARs.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its series FRB Atlanta Working Paper with number 99-13.

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Date of creation: 1999
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:99-13
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  9. David B. Gordon & Eric M. Leeper, 1992. "The dynamic impacts of monetary policy: an exercise in tentative identification," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 92-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  10. Christopher A. Sims & Tao Zha, 1994. "Error Bands for Impulse Responses," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1085, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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  12. Rudebusch, G.D., 1996. "Do Measures of Monetary Policy in a VAR Make Sense?," Papers 269, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
  13. Litterman, Robert B, 1986. "Forecasting with Bayesian Vector Autoregressions-Five Years of Experience," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 4(1), pages 25-38, January.
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  16. Christopher A. Sims & Tao Zha, 1996. "Bayesian methods for dynamic multivariate models," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 96-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  17. Christopher A. Sims, 1998. "Role of interest rate policy in the generation and propagation of business cycles: what has changed since the '30s?," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 42(Jun), pages 121-175.
  18. John C. Robertson & Ellis W. Tallman, 1999. "Improving forecasts of the federal funds rate in a policy model," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 99-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  19. Faust, Jon, 1998. "The robustness of identified VAR conclusions about money," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 207-244, December.
  20. Christiano, Lawrence J. & Eichenbaum, Martin & Evans, Charles L., 1999. "Monetary policy shocks: What have we learned and to what end?," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 65-148 Elsevier.
  21. Highfield, Richard A. & O'Hara, Maureen & Wood, John H., 1991. "Public ends, private means : Central banking and the profit motive 1823-1832," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 287-322, October.
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