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Elements of a Theory of Design Limits to Optimal Policy

  • William A. Brock
  • Steven N. Durlauf

This paper presents a framework for understanding the limits that exist in optimal policy design in dynamic contexts. We consider the design of policies in the context of dynamic linear models. Fundamental design limits exist for policy rules in such environments in the sense that any policy rule embodies tradeoffs between the magnitudes of different frequency-specific components of the variance. Hence policies that are effective in eliminating low frequency variance components of a state variable can only do so at the cost of exacerbating high frequency variance components, and vice versa. Examples of the implications of such tradeoffs are considered.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10495.

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Date of creation: May 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf, 2004. "Elements of a Theory of Design Limits to Optimal Policy," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 72(s1), pages 1-18, 09.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10495
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  1. repec:cup:macdyn:v:6:y:2002:i:1:p:167-85 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. John B. Taylor, 1999. "Monetary Policy Rules," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number tayl99-1, December.
  3. Taylor, John B., 1993. "Discretion versus policy rules in practice," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 195-214, December.
  4. Robert B. Barsky & Jeffrey A. Miron, 1988. "The Seasonal Cycle and the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 2688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf & Kenneth D. West, 2003. "Policy Evaluation in Uncertain Economic Environments," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(1), pages 235-322.
  8. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2003. "Robust monetary policy rules with unknown natural rates," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-11, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Alexei Onatski & James H. Stock, 1999. "Robust monetary policy under model uncertainty in a small model of the U.S. economy," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  10. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J., 2003. "Robust control of forward-looking models," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 581-604, April.
  11. J. Tetlow, Robert & von zur Muehlen, Peter, 2001. "Robust monetary policy with misspecified models: Does model uncertainty always call for attenuated policy?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 25(6-7), pages 911-949, June.
  12. Marcellino, Massimiliano & Salmon, Mark, 2002. "Robust Decision Theory And The Lucas Critique," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(01), pages 167-185, February.
  13. 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.
  14. Otrok, Christopher, 2001. "Spectral Welfare Cost Functions," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(2), pages 345-67, May.
  15. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 2001. "Acknowledging Misspecification in Macroeconomic Theory," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(3), pages 519-535, July.
  16. Christopher A. Sims, 2001. "Pitfalls of a Minimax Approach to Model Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 51-54, May.
  17. repec:cup:macdyn:v:6:y:2002:i:1:p:111-44 is not listed on IDEAS
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