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Learning and excess volatility

  • James B. Bullard
  • John Duffy

We introduce adaptive learning behavior into a general equilibrium lifecycle economy with capital accumulation. Agents form forecasts of the rate of return to capital assets using least squares autoregressions on past data. We show that, in contrast to the perfect foresight dynamics, the dynamical system under learning possesses equilibria characterized by persistent excess volatility in returns to capital. We explore a quantitative case for these learning equilibria. We use an evolutionary search algorithm to calibrate a version of the system under learning and show that this system can generate data that matches some features of the time series data for U.S. stock returns and per capita consumption. We argue that this finding provides support for the hypothesis that the observed excess volatility of asset returns can by explained by changes in investor expectations against a background of relatively small changes in fundamental factors.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 1998-016.

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Date of creation: 1998
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Publication status: Published in Macroeconomic Dynamics, April 2001, 5(2), pp. 272-302
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:1998-016
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  1. Arifovic, Jasmina & Bullard, James & Duffy, John, 1997. "The Transition from Stagnation to Growth: An Adaptive Learning Approach," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 185-209, July.
  2. Brock, W.A., 1995. "A Rational Route to Randomness," Working papers 9530, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  3. Arthur, W.B. & Holland, J.H. & LeBaron, B. & Palmer, R. & Tayler, P., 1996. "Asset Pricing Under Endogenous Expectations in an Artificial Stock Market," Working papers 9625, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  4. Kenneth D. West, 1988. "Bubbles, Fads, and Stock Price Volatility Tests: A Partial Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 2574, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. S. Grossman & R. Shiller, . "The Determinants of the Variability of Stock Market Price," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 18-80, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  6. Albert Marcet & Juan P. Nicolini, 1995. "Recurrent hyperinflations and learning," Economics Working Papers 244, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Nov 2001.
  7. Poterba, James M. & Summers, Lawrence H., 1988. "Mean reversion in stock prices : Evidence and Implications," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 27-59, October.
  8. Arifovic, Jasmina, 1996. "The Behavior of the Exchange Rate in the Genetic Algorithm and Experimental Economies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(3), pages 510-41, June.
  9. Hurd, Michael D, 1989. "Mortality Risk and Bequests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 779-813, July.
  10. Hansen, G.D., 1991. "The Cyclical and Secular Behavior of the Labor Input : Comparing Efficiency Units and Hours Worked," Papers 36, California Los Angeles - Applied Econometrics.
  11. Bullard James, 1994. "Learning Equilibria," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 468-485, December.
  12. Allan G. Timmermann, 1993. "How Learning in Financial Markets Generates Excess Volatility and Predictability in Stock Prices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(4), pages 1135-1145.
  13. Jean-Michel Grandmont, 1998. "Expectations Formation and Stability of Large Socioeconomic Systems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(4), pages 741-782, July.
  14. Campbell, John Y, 1991. "A Variance Decomposition for Stock Returns," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(405), pages 157-79, March.
  15. Shiller, Robert J, 1981. "Do Stock Prices Move Too Much to be Justified by Subsequent Changes in Dividends?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 421-36, June.
  16. Farebrother, R W, 1980. "The Durbin-Watson Test for Serial Correlation When There Is No Intercept in the Regression," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(6), pages 1553-63, September.
  17. Campbell, John Y., 1999. "Asset prices, consumption, and the business cycle," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 19, pages 1231-1303 Elsevier.
  18. LeRoy, Stephen F & Porter, Richard D, 1981. "The Present-Value Relation: Tests Based on Implied Variance Bounds," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(3), pages 555-74, May.
  19. Bray, Margaret M & Savin, Nathan E, 1986. "Rational Expectations Equilibria, Learning, and Model Specification," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(5), pages 1129-60, September.
  20. Allan Timmermann, 1996. "Excess Volatility and Predictability of Stock Prices in Autoregressive Dividend Models with Learning," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(4), pages 523-557.
  21. Hommes, Cars & Sorger, Gerhard, 1998. "Consistent Expectations Equilibria," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(03), pages 287-321, September.
  22. repec:cup:macdyn:v:2:y:1998:i:3:p:287-321 is not listed on IDEAS
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