Essays on belief updating, forecasting, and robust policy making based on Macroeconomic variables

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This dissertation consists of three essays that delve into the intersection of econometrics and macroeconomics. The essays employ econometric tools to investigate various topics related to macroeconomic forecasting and policy-making. The first essay aims to help policy-makers conduct robust inference on parameters that may suffer identification issues from DSGE models, and perform reliable counterfactual analysis based on available macroeconomic indicators. The second essay from a non-structural perspective, explores how to optimally forecast these variables in real-time utilizing available macroeconomic variables under model uncertainty. The last essay looks at Survey of Professional Forecasters and studies how agents update their beliefs based on common and private signals during business cycles. The first chapter introduces a new algorithm to conduct robust Bayesian estimation and inference in dynamic stochastic general equilibrium models. The algorithm combines standard Bayesian methods with an equivalence characterization of model solutions. This algorithm allows researchers to perform the following analysis: First, find the complete range of posterior means of both the deep parameters and any parameters of interest robust to the choice of priors in a sense I make precise. Second, derive the robust Bayesian credible region for these parameters. I prove the validity of this algorithm and apply this method to the models in Cochrane (2011) and An and Schorfheide (2007) to achieve robust estimations for structural parameters and impulse responses. In addition, I conduct a sensitivity analysis of optimal monetary policy rules with respect to the choice of priors and provide bounds to the optimal Taylor rule parameters. In the second chapter, my coauthors and I focus on real-time monitoring of economic activities, also known as nowcasting. Nowcasting can be particularly challenging in the era of Big Data because it requires the management of a substantial amount of time series data that exhibit different frequencies and release dates. In this paper, we propose a novel nowcasting strategy that utilizes dynamic factor models, which we call leave-b-out forward validation model averaging with penalization (LboFVMA). We demonstrate that the selected weight converges asymptotically to an optimal and consistent estimator, even in cases where all candidate models are misspecified. Furthermore, the proposed estimator is consistent and follows an asymptotic Gaussian distribution if the true model is included among the candidate models. Our simulation results demonstrate that the LboFVMA approach performs well, as it generates low mean square forecast errors. This highlights its effectiveness and accuracy in the field of nowcasting. In the third chapter, my coauthors and I propose a method to empirically decompose a cross-section of observed belief revisions into components driven by private and common signals under weak assumptions. We define a common signal as the single signal that if observed by all agents can explain the maximum amount of belief revisions across agents. Private signals are defined to explain the residual belief revisions unaccounted for by the common signal. When applied to probability forecasts from the Survey of Professional Forecasters we find that private signals account for more of the observed belief revisions than common signals. There is a large cross-sectional heterogeneity in signal precision across forecasters, with about 1/2 of them observing private signals that are less precise than the common signal. Unconditionally, the precision of private and common signals are positively correlated, suggesting that private and common information are complements. Inflation volatility, perceived stock market volatility and a high risk of recession are all factors associated with increased informativeness and precision of both private and common signals. Disagreement between the private and common signals can partly explain increases in uncertainty about macro variables. We discuss the implications of our findings for theoretical models of information acquisition.

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Belief revision; Model Averaging; Robust Bayesian


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Molinari, Francesca

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Montiel Olea, Jose
Hong, Yongmiao
Nimark, Preben

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Ph. D., Economics

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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