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Measurement with minimal theory

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  • Ellen R. McGrattan

Abstract

A central debate in applied macroeconomics is whether statistical tools that use minimal identifying assumptions are useful for isolating promising models within a broad class. In this paper, I compare three statistical models - a vector autoregressive moving average (VARMA) model, an unrestricted state space model, and a restricted state space model - that are all consistent with the same prototype business cycle model. The business cycle model is a prototype in the sense that many models, with various frictions and shocks, are observationally equivalent to it. The statistical models I consider differ in the amount of a priori theory that is imposed, with VARMAs imposing minimal assumptions and restricted state space models imposing the maximal. The objective is to determine if it is possible to successfully uncover statistics of interest for business cycle theorists with sample sizes used in practice and only minimal identifying assumptions imposed. I find that the identifying assumptions of VARMAs and unrestricted state space models are too minimal: The range of estimates are so large as to be uninformative for most statistics that business cycle researchers need to distinguish alternative theories.

Suggested Citation

  • Ellen R. McGrattan, 2006. "Measurement with minimal theory," Working Papers 643, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmwp:643
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Chari, V.V. & Kehoe, Patrick J. & McGrattan, Ellen R., 2008. "Are structural VARs with long-run restrictions useful in developing business cycle theory?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(8), pages 1337-1352, November.
    2. Uhlig, H.F.H.V.S., 1995. "A toolkit for analyzing nonlinear dynamic stochastic models easily," Discussion Paper 1995-97, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    3. Hannan, E J, 1976. "The Identification and Parameterization of ARMAX and State Space Forms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(4), pages 713-723, July.
    4. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2007. "Business Cycle Accounting," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(3), pages 781-836, May.
    5. Burmeister, Edwin & Wall, Kent D & Hamilton, James D, 1986. "Estimation of Unobserved Expected Monthly Inflation Using Kalman Filtering," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 4(2), pages 147-160, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Canova, Fabio, 2014. "Bridging DSGE models and the raw data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 1-15.
    2. Kascha, Christian & Mertens, Karel, 2009. "Business cycle analysis and VARMA models," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 267-282, February.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Business cycles - Econometric models;

    JEL classification:

    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • C1 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General

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