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Macroeconomics after the Crisis: Time to Deal with the Pretense-of-Knowledge Syndrome

  • Ricardo J. Caballero

In this paper I argue that the current core of macroeconomics--by which I mainly mean the so-called dynamic stochastic general equilibrium approach--has become so mesmerized with its own internal logic that it has begun to confuse the precision it has achieved about its own world with the precision that it has about the real one. This is dangerous for both methodological and policy reasons. On the methodology front, macroeconomic research has been in "fine-tuning" mode within the local-maximum of the dynamic stochastic general equilibrium world, when we should be in "broad-exploration" mode. We are too far from absolute truth to be so specialized and to make the kind of confident quantitative claims that often emerge from the core. On the policy front, this confused precision creates the illusion that a minor adjustment in the standard policy framework will prevent future crises, and by doing so it leaves us overly exposed to the new and unexpected.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16429.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16429.

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Date of creation: Oct 2010
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Publication status: published as Ricardo J. Caballero, 2010. "Macroeconomics after the Crisis: Time to Deal with the Pretense-of-Knowledge Syndrome," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(4), pages 85-102, Fall.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16429
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  1. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark, 1989. "Agency Costs, Net Worth, and Business Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 14-31, March.
  2. Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. "This Time It’s Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly-Preface," MPRA Paper 17451, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Scheinkman, Jose A & Woodford, Michael, 1994. "Self-Organized Criticality and Economic Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 417-21, May.
  4. 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.
  5. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent & Thomas D. Tallarini Jr., 1997. "Robust Permanent Income and Pricing," Levine's Working Paper Archive 596, David K. Levine.
  6. Jesús Fernández-Villaverde, 2009. "The Econometrics of DSGE Models," NBER Working Papers 14677, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Ricardo J. Caballero & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2007. "Collective Risk Management in a Flight to Quality Episode," NBER Working Papers 12896, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. von Hayek, Friedrich August, 1989. "The Pretence of Knowledge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(6), pages 3-7, December.
  9. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521762144 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Ricardo J. Caballero & Alp Simsek, 2009. "Complexity and Financial Panics," NBER Working Papers 14997, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Andrew Ang & Sen Dong, 2005. "No-Arbitrage Taylor Rules," 2005 Meeting Papers 22, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  12. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Moore, John, 1997. "Credit Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 211-48, April.
  13. Julio J. Rotemberg, 2010. "Liquidity needs in economies with interconnected financial obligations," CQER Working Paper 2009-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  14. Timothy Cogley & Riccardo Colacito & Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 2008. "Robustness and U.S. Monetary Policy Experimentation," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 40(8), pages 1599-1623, December.
  15. John Geanakoplos & Ana Fostel, 2008. "Leverage Cycles and the Anxious Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1211-44, September.
  16. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 8973.
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