Learning and Expectations in Macroeconomics

Princeton University Press
Free sample

A crucial challenge for economists is figuring out how people interpret the world and form expectations that will likely influence their economic activity. Inflation, asset prices, exchange rates, investment, and consumption are just some of the economic variables that are largely explained by expectations. Here George Evans and Seppo Honkapohja bring new explanatory power to a variety of expectation formation models by focusing on the learning factor. Whereas the rational expectations paradigm offers the prevailing method to determining expectations, it assumes very theoretical knowledge on the part of economic actors. Evans and Honkapohja contribute to a growing body of research positing that households and firms learn by making forecasts using observed data, updating their forecast rules over time in response to errors. This book is the first systematic development of the new statistical learning approach.

Depending on the particular economic structure, the economy may converge to a standard rational-expectations or a "rational bubble" solution, or exhibit persistent learning dynamics. The learning approach also provides tools to assess the importance of new models with expectational indeterminacy, in which expectations are an independent cause of macroeconomic fluctuations. Moreover, learning dynamics provide a theory for the evolution of expectations and selection between alternative equilibria, with implications for business cycles, asset price volatility, and policy. This book provides an authoritative treatment of this emerging field, developing the analytical techniques in detail and using them to synthesize and extend existing research.

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About the author

George W. Evans is John B. Hamacher Professor of Economics at the University of Oregon and has held positions at the London School of Economics, Stanford University, and the University of Edinburgh. Seppo Honkapohja is Professor of Economics at the University of Helsinki, where he has currently been appointed Academy Professor. Professors Evans and Honkapohja have published extensively in economic journals, and each is best known for his respective research on expectations and learning in dynamic models. This book is the outgrowth of over fifteen years of collaboration between them.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jan 6, 2012
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Pages
424
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ISBN
9781400824267
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economic History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The form of ‘reflexivity’ – defined by the dictionary as that which is ‘directed back upon itself’ – that is most relevant to economic methodology is that where observation of the economy leads to ideas that change behavior, which in turn changes (is directed back upon) the economy itself. As George Soros explains: "if investors believe that markets are efficient then that belief will change the way they invest, and that in turn will change the nature of the markets they are observing ... That is the principle of reflexivity".

Although various versions of reflexivity have long been discussed, in recent years George Soros has been particularly effective in bringing ideas about reflexivity to the attention of the economic and financial communities. In a series of writings he has systematically argued that reflexivity is not only an important aspect of economic life, it is an aspect that is neglected in most mainstream theorizing; and in addition, that the neglect of reflexivity has been responsible for the failure of economists to predict, explain, or offer a solution for events such as the recent financial crisis.

Soros’ ideas about reflexivity have important methodological significance, and his chapter in this book summarizes and clarifies his arguments. His contribution is joined by those of thirteen scholars from a wide range of relevant fields, who provide a commentary on the idea of reflexivity in economics. This book was originally published as a special issue of The Journal of Economic Methodology.

Ian Steedman is recognised internationally as one of the leading economic theorists of his time and has made major contributions to the development of economic theory and economic thought, as substantiated by his work on Marx, Sraffa, Marshall, Jevons and Wicksteed. His contributions to economic theory include his work on time, international trade, capital theory and growth and distribution. This collection reflects the wide ranging interests of Ian Steedman and is a tribute to his outstanding contributions.

This edited collection brings together twenty two new essays by distinguished economists from around the world. The papers cover a wide range of topics including; international trade – an area in which Steedman has made significant contributions; Sraffa, the history of economic thought and theoretical papers – including Faustian Agents and market failure in waste production.

The essays in this book will be an invaluable source for economists interested in economic theory or in the evolution of economic thought. It will also be of interest to postgraduate and research students in economic theory and the history of economic thought.

John Vint is Professor of Economics at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. J. Stanley Metcalfe is Professor of Economics at the University of Manchester, UK. Heinz D. Kurz is Professor of Economics at the University of Graz, Austria. Neri Salvadori is Professor of Economics at the University of Pisa, Italy. Paul Samuelson is Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.

Brilliant and engagingly written, Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine?

Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are?

Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence?

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or lack of it). Korea, to take just one of their fascinating examples, is a remarkably homogeneous nation, yet the people of North Korea are among the poorest on earth while their brothers and sisters in South Korea are among the richest. The south forged a society that created incentives, rewarded innovation, and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities.

The economic success thus spurred was sustained because the government became accountable and responsive to citizens and the great mass of people. Sadly, the people of the north have endured decades of famine, political repression, and very different economic institutions—with no end in sight. The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories.

Based on fifteen years of original research Acemoglu and Robinson marshall extraordinary historical evidence from the Roman Empire, the Mayan city-states, medieval Venice, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the United States, and Africa to build a new theory of political economy with great relevance for the big questions of today, including:

- China has built an authoritarian growth machine. Will it continue to grow at such high speed and overwhelm the West?

- Are America’s best days behind it? Are we moving from a virtuous circle in which efforts by elites to aggrandize power are resisted to a vicious one that enriches and empowers a small minority?

- What is the most effective way to help move billions of people from the rut of poverty to prosperity? More philanthropy from the wealthy nations of the West? Or learning the hard-won lessons of Acemoglu and Robinson’s breakthrough ideas on the interplay between inclusive political and economic institutions?

Why Nations Fail will change the way you look at—and understand—the world. 
With the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, any pretense of a connection of the world's currencies to any real commodity has been abandoned. Yet since the 1980s, most central banks have abandoned money-growth targets as practical guidelines for monetary policy as well. How then can pure "fiat" currencies be managed so as to create confidence in the stability of national units of account?

Interest and Prices seeks to provide theoretical foundations for a rule-based approach to monetary policy suitable for a world of instant communications and ever more efficient financial markets. In such a world, effective monetary policy requires that central banks construct a conscious and articulate account of what they are doing. Michael Woodford reexamines the foundations of monetary economics, and shows how interest-rate policy can be used to achieve an inflation target in the absence of either commodity backing or control of a monetary aggregate.


The book further shows how the tools of modern macroeconomic theory can be used to design an optimal inflation-targeting regime--one that balances stabilization goals with the pursuit of price stability in a way that is grounded in an explicit welfare analysis, and that takes account of the "New Classical" critique of traditional policy evaluation exercises. It thus argues that rule-based policymaking need not mean adherence to a rigid framework unrelated to stabilization objectives for the sake of credibility, while at the same time showing the advantages of rule-based over purely discretionary policymaking.

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics

Get ready to change the way you think about economics.

Nobel laureate Richard H. Thaler has spent his career studying the radical notion that the central agents in the economy are humans—predictable, error-prone individuals. Misbehaving is his arresting, frequently hilarious account of the struggle to bring an academic discipline back down to earth—and change the way we think about economics, ourselves, and our world.

Traditional economics assumes rational actors. Early in his research, Thaler realized these Spock-like automatons were nothing like real people. Whether buying a clock radio, selling basketball tickets, or applying for a mortgage, we all succumb to biases and make decisions that deviate from the standards of rationality assumed by economists. In other words, we misbehave. More importantly, our misbehavior has serious consequences. Dismissed at first by economists as an amusing sideshow, the study of human miscalculations and their effects on markets now drives efforts to make better decisions in our lives, our businesses, and our governments.

Coupling recent discoveries in human psychology with a practical understanding of incentives and market behavior, Thaler enlightens readers about how to make smarter decisions in an increasingly mystifying world. He reveals how behavioral economic analysis opens up new ways to look at everything from household finance to assigning faculty offices in a new building, to TV game shows, the NFL draft, and businesses like Uber.

Laced with antic stories of Thaler’s spirited battles with the bastions of traditional economic thinking, Misbehaving is a singular look into profound human foibles. When economics meets psychology, the implications for individuals, managers, and policy makers are both profound and entertaining.

Shortlisted for the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

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