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Foresight and Information Flows

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  • Eric M. Leeper
  • Todd B. Walker
  • Shu-Chun Susan Yang

Abstract

News--or foresight--about future economic fundamentals can create rational expectations equilibria with non-fundamental representations that pose substantial challenges to econometric efforts to recover the structural shocks to which economic agents react. Using tax policies as a leading example of foresight, simple theory makes transparent the economic behavior and information structures that generate non-fundamental equilibria. Econometric analyses that fail to model foresight will obtain biased estimates of output multipliers for taxes; biases are quantitatively important when two canonical theoretical models are taken as data generating processes. Both the nature of equilibria and the inferences about the effects of anticipated tax changes hinge critically on hypothesized tax information flows. Differential U.S. federal tax treatment of municipal and treasury bonds embeds news about future taxes in bond yield spreads. Including that measure of tax news in identified VARs produces substantially different inferences about the macroeconomic impacts of anticipated taxes.

Suggested Citation

  • Eric M. Leeper & Todd B. Walker & Shu-Chun Susan Yang, 2011. "Foresight and Information Flows," NBER Working Papers 16951, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16951
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C5 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General

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