When economic models are unable to fit the data, what can researchers do?

Atsushi Inoue, Chun-Hung Kuo, Barbara Rossi 24 November 2014

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Existing models may be mis-specified

The recent financial crisis of 2007-09 (the so-called ‘Great Recession’) uncovered the difficulties that recent structural economic models face in explaining the data. The fact that structural models face limitations in explaining and forecasting is well known. For example, Edge and Gurkaynak (2010), among others, have shown that that the forecast performance of the Smets and Wouters (2007) model is not better than that of a naïve constant growth rate model during the Great Moderation period.

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Tags:  model mis-specification, Great Recession, structural shocks

What drives micro and macro volatility?

Cosmin L. Ilut , Matthias Kehrig, Martin Schneider 26 October 2014

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If and how increased uncertainty may trigger recessions 1, lower the effectiveness of fiscal and monetary policy, and stifle subsequent recoveries is the main object of a new ‘uncertainty literature’ surveyed in Bloom (2014). The authors typically point to time-varying volatility of both aggregate employment growth – ‘macro volatility’ – and cross-sectional employment growth dispersion, analogously labeled ‘micro volatility’. 

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Topics:  Frontiers of economic research Labour markets Macroeconomic policy

Tags:  employment volatility, Great Recession

The British origins of the US endowment model

David Chambers, Elroy Dimson 20 October 2014

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In recent years much attention has been given to the so-called ‘Yale model’, an approach to investing practised by the Yale University Investments Office in managing its $24 billion endowment. The core of this model is an emphasis on diversification and on active management of equity-orientated, illiquid assets (Yale 2014). Yale has generated returns of 13.9% per annum over the last 20 years – well in excess of the 9.2% average return on US college and university endowments. Other leading US university endowments have followed this model (Lerner et al. 2008).

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Topics:  Financial markets

Tags:  investment, endowments, university endowments, college endowments, Universities, Keynes, asset management, diversification, Great Depression, Great Recession, buy-and-hold, equity investing, portfolio management, Yale, Cambridge

To exit the Great Recession, central banks must adapt their policies and models

Marcus Miller, Lei Zhang 10 September 2014

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“Practical men…are usually the slaves…[of] some academic scribbler of a few years back” – John Maynard Keynes.

For monetary policy to be most effective, Michael Woodford emphasised the crucial importance of managing expectations. For this purpose, he advocated that central banks adopt explicit rules for setting interest rates to check inflation and recession, and went on to note that:

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Topics:  Global crisis Macroeconomic policy Monetary policy

Tags:  Taylor rule, forward guidance, great moderation, global crisis, Great Recession, quantitative easing, DSGE models, expectations, tapering, US, UK, Europe, eurozone, ECB, Bank of England, central banking, IMF, unconventional monetary policy

Secular stagnation: Facts, causes, and cures – a new Vox eBook

Coen Teulings, Richard Baldwin 10 September 2014

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Teaser from original column posted on 15 August 2014

Six years after the Crisis and the recovery is still anaemic despite years of zero interest rates. Is ‘secular stagnation’ to blame? This column introduces an eBook that gathers the views of leading economists including Summers, Krugman, Gordon, Blanchard, Koo, Eichengreen, Caballero, Glaeser, and a dozen others. It is too early to tell whether secular stagnation is really secular, but if it is, current policy tools will be obsolete. Policymakers should start thinking about potential solutions.

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Topics:  Global crisis Macroeconomic policy Monetary policy

Tags:  interest rates, US, Europe, Japan, investment, macroeconomics, Great Recession, zero lower bound, savings, secular stagnation, SecStag debate

The Great Recession’s long-term damage

Laurence Ball 01 July 2014

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According to macroeconomics textbooks, a fall in aggregate demand causes a recession in which output drops below potential output – the normal level of production given the economy’s resources and technology. This effect is temporary, however. A recession is followed by a recovery period in which output returns to potential, and potential itself is not affected significantly by the recession.

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Topics:  Global crisis

Tags:  growth, unemployment, OECD, potential output, Great Recession, hysteresis

The great British jobs and productivity mystery

João Paulo Pessoa, John Van Reenen 28 June 2014

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With some economic recovery having finally got underway, the UK is still feeling the repercussions of the so-called ‘Great Recession’. National output, as measured by GDP, fell by over 7% from its peak in January 2008 – the biggest fall since the inter-war years – and only returned to its pre-crisis level in April 2014 (NIESR 2014). This has been the slowest recovery in this century (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. The profile of recession and recovery

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Topics:  Europe's nations and regions

Tags:  unemployment, productivity growth, UK, Great Recession

Trade policy through 2013: Signs of improvement but new policy concerns

Chad P Bown 27 June 2014

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How countries apply their trade policies has been of heightened interest since the early days of the Great Recession (Baldwin and Evenett 2009). While applied import tariffs have proven resilient to change, the temporary trade barriers of antidumping, safeguards, and countervailing duties have become important to understanding the year-to-year churning that arises under modern commercial policy. Here we summarise evidence from the World Bank’s Temporary Trade Barriers Database – that has been newly updated with data through 2013 – for more than 25 major economies.

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Topics:  International trade

Tags:  G20, protectionism, Trade barriers, Great Recession, TTBs

Falling real wages in the UK

David Blanchflower, Stephen Machin 12 May 2014

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There have been unprecedented falls in real wages in the UK since the start of the recession triggered by the financial crisis of 2008. This did not happen in previous economic downturns – median real wage growth slowed down or stalled, but it did not fall. Indeed, in past recessions, almost all workers in both the lowest and highest deciles of the wage distribution experienced growing real wages. It was the unemployed who experienced almost all the pain – they lost their jobs and much of their incomes, and many were unemployed for a long time.

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Topics:  Labour markets Poverty and income inequality

Tags:  US, unemployment, wages, Inequality, UK, Great Recession, real wages

Has US household deleveraging ended? A model-based estimate of equilibrium debt

Bruno Albuquerque, Ursel Baumann, Georgi Krustev 18 April 2014

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The balance sheet adjustment in the household sector has been a prominent feature of the last US recession and subsequent recovery. The beginning of the economic downturn in late 2007 broadly coincided with a sustained reduction in household liabilities relative to income – that is, household deleveraging – which contrasted with the strong build-up of debt before the crisis. From a peak of around 129% in the fourth quarter of 2007, the household debt-to-income ratio fell by 26 percentage points to around 104% in the fourth quarter of 2013, led by sustained declines in mortgage debt.

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Topics:  Global crisis

Tags:  Great Recession, household debt, household deleveraging

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