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Robustness and macroeconomic policy

  • Gadi Barlevy

This paper considers the design of macroeconomic policies in the face of uncertainty. In recent years, several economists have advocated that when policymakers are uncertain about the environment they face and find it difficult to assign precise probabilities to the alternative scenarios that may characterize this environment, they should design policies to be robust in the sense that they minimize the worstcase loss these policies could ever impose. I review and evaluate the objections cited by critics of this approach. I further argue that, contrary to what some have inferred, concern about worst-case scenarios does not always lead to policies that respond more aggressively to incoming news than the optimal policy would respond absent any uncertainty.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-2010-04.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-2010-04
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  1. Tomasz Strzalecki, . "Axiomatic Foundations of Multiplier Preferences," Working Paper 8239, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  2. Glenn D. Rudebusch & Lars E. O. Svensson, 1998. "Policy rules for inflation targeting," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 98-03, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
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  8. Manski, Charles F., 2000. "Identification problems and decisions under ambiguity: Empirical analysis of treatment response and normative analysis of treatment choice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 95(2), pages 415-442, April.
  9. Martin Ellison & Thomas J. Sargent, 2009. "A defence of the FOMC," Economics Series Working Papers 457, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    • Martin Ellison & Thomas J. Sargent, 2012. "A Defense Of The Fomc," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 53(4), pages 1047-1065, November.
  10. Chow, Gregory C, 1973. "Effect of Uncertainty on Optimal Control Policies," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 632-45, October.
  11. Robert J. Tetlow & Peter von zur Muehlen, 2000. "Robust monetary policy with misspecified models: does model uncertainty always call for attenuated policy?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-28, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  12. Anastasios G. Karantounias with Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 2009. "Managing expectations and fiscal policy," Working Paper 2009-29, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  13. Gadi Barlevy, 2009. "Policymaking under uncertainty: Gradualism and robustness," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q II, pages 38-55.
  14. Giannoni, Marc P., 2002. "Does Model Uncertainty Justify Caution? Robust Optimal Monetary Policy In A Forward-Looking Model," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(01), pages 111-144, February.
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