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Real expectations: replacing rational expectations with survey expectations in dynamic macro models

  • Jeff Fuhrer
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    This paper examines the implications of changing the expectations assumption that is embedded in nearly all current macroeconomic models. The paper substitutes measured or "real" expectations for rational expectations in an array of standard macroeconomic relationships, as well as in a DSGE model. The author finds that the use of survey measures of expectations — for near-term inflation, long-term inflation, unemployment, and short-term interest rates — improves performance along a variety of dimensions. Survey expectations exhibit strong correlations to key macroeconomic variables. Those correlations may be given a structural interpretation in a DSGE context. Including survey expectations helps to identify key slope parameters in standard relationships, and eliminates the need for having lagged dependent variables in structural models that is often motivated by indexation for prices and habit formation for consumption. Including survey expectations also obviates the need for autocorrelated structural shocks in the key equations. In a head-to-head empirical test, the weight placed on the DSGE model's rational expectations is essentially zero and the weight on survey expectations is one. The paper also discusses the modeling complications that arise once the rational expectations assumption is abandoned, and proposes methods for endogenizing survey expectations in a general equilibrium macro model.

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    File URL: http://www.bostonfed.org/economic/wp/wp2012/wp1219.htm
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    File URL: http://www.bostonfed.org/economic/wp/wp2012/wp1219.pdf
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    Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Working Papers with number 12-19.

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    Date of creation: 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:12-19
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    1. Richard Clarida & Jordi Galí & Mark Gertler, 1997. "Monetary policy rules and macroeconomic stability: Evidence and some theory," Economics Working Papers 350, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised May 1999.
    2. Jeremy Rudd & Karl Whelan, 2007. "Modeling Inflation Dynamics: A Critical Review of Recent Research," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(s1), pages 155-170, 02.
    3. Jordi Gali & Mark Gertler, 2000. "Inflation Dynamics: A Structural Econometric Analysis," NBER Working Papers 7551, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Andreas Fuster & Benjamin Hebert & David Laibson, 2011. "Natural Expectations, Macroeconomic Dynamics, and Asset Pricing," NBER Working Papers 17301, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Jody Overland & Christopher D. Carroll & David N. Weil, 2000. "Saving and Growth with Habit Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 341-355, June.
    6. Frank Smets & Raf Wouters, 2002. "An estimated dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model of the euro area," Working Paper Research 35, National Bank of Belgium.
    7. Jeffrey C. Fuhrer & Giovanni P. Olivei & Geoffrey M. B. Tootell, 2012. "Inflation Dynamics When Inflation Is Near Zero," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 44, pages 83-122, 02.
    8. Calvo, Guillermo A., 1983. "Staggered prices in a utility-maximizing framework," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 383-398, September.
    9. den Haan, Wouter J & Marcet, Albert, 1990. "Solving the Stochastic Growth Model by Parameterizing Expectations," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 8(1), pages 31-34, January.
    10. Fuhrer, Jeffrey, 2006. "Intrinsic and Inherited Inflation Persistence," MPRA Paper 805, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Glenn D. Rudebusch & Jeffrey C. Fuhrer, 2002. "Estimating the Euler equation for output," Working Paper Series 2002-12, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    12. Ricardo Nunes, 2010. "Inflation Dynamics: The Role of Expectations," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(6), pages 1161-1172, 09.
    13. Adam, Klaus & Padula, Mario, 2003. "Inflation dynamics and subjective expectations in the United States," Working Paper Series 0222, European Central Bank.
    14. Bryan, Michael F & Gavin, William T, 1986. "Models of Inflation Expectations Formation: A Comparison of Household and Economist Forecasts: A Comment," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 18(4), pages 539-44, November.
    15. repec:ucn:oapubs:10197/201 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Karen E. Dynan, 2000. "Habit Formation in Consumer Preferences: Evidence from Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 391-406, June.
    17. Jeffrey C. Fuhrer, 2000. "Habit Formation in Consumption and Its Implications for Monetary-Policy Models," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 367-390, June.
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