Advances in Using Vector Autoregressions to Estimate Structural Magnitudes
This paper surveys recent advances in drawing structural conclusions from vector autoregressions (VARs), providing a unified perspective on the role of prior knowledge. We describe the traditional approach to identification as a claim to have exact prior information about the structural model and propose Bayesian inference as a way to acknowledge that prior information is imperfect or subject to error. We raise concerns from both a frequentist and a Bayesian perspective about the way that results are typically reported for VARs that are set-identified using sign and other restrictions. We call attention to a common but previously unrecognized error in estimating structural elasticities and show how to correctly estimate elasticities even in the case when one only knows the effects of a single structural shock.
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Advances in Using Vector Autoregressions to Estimate Structural Magnitudes ...
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Inference in Structural Vector Autoregressions when the Identifying Assumptions are not Fully Believed: Re-evaluating the Role of Monetary Policy in Economic Fluctuations
Journal of Monetary Economics,
Point estimates and error bands for SVARs that are set identified are only justified if the researcher is persuaded that some parameter values are a priori more plausible than others. When such prior information exists, traditional approaches can be generalized to allow for doubts about the identifying assumptions. We use information about both structural coefficients and impacts of shocks and propose a new asymmetric t-distribution for incorporating information about signs in a nondogmatic way. We apply these methods to a three-variable macroeconomic model and conclude that monetary policy shocks are not the major driver of output, inflation, or interest rates.
Banks Fearing the Drought? Liquidity Hoarding as a Response to Idiosyncratic Interbank Funding Dry-ups
IWH Discussion Papers,
Since the global financial crisis, economic literature has highlighted banks’ inclination to bolster up their liquid asset positions once the aggregate interbank funding market experiences a dry-up. To this regard, we show that liquidity hoarding and its detrimental effects on credit can also be triggered by idiosyncratic, i.e. bankspecific, interbank funding shocks with implications for monetary policy. Combining a unique data set of the Brazilian banking sector with a novel identification strategy enables us to overcome previous limitations for studying this phenomenon as a bankspecific event. This strategy further helps us to analyse how disruptions in the bank headquarters’ interbank market can lead to liquidity and lending adjustments at the regional bank branch level. From the perspective of the policy maker, understanding this market-to-market spillover effect is important as local bank branch markets are characterised by market concentration and relationship lending.
Skills, Earnings, and Employment: Exploring Causality in the Estimation of Returns to Skills
Large-scale Assessments in Education,
Ample evidence indicates that a person’s human capital is important for success on the labor market in terms of both wages and employment prospects. However, unlike the efforts to identify the impact of school attainment on labor-market outcomes, the literature on returns to cognitive skills has not yet provided convincing evidence that the estimated returns can be causally interpreted. Using the PIAAC Survey of Adult Skills, this paper explores several approaches that aim to address potential threats to causal identification of returns to skills, in terms of both higher wages and better employment chances. We address measurement error by exploiting the fact that PIAAC measures skills in several domains. Furthermore, we estimate instrumental-variable models that use skill variation stemming from school attainment and parental education to circumvent reverse causation. Results show a strikingly similar pattern across the diverse set of countries in our sample. In fact, the instrumental-variable estimates are consistently larger than those found in standard least-squares estimations. The same is true in two “natural experiments,” one of which exploits variation in skills from changes in compulsory-schooling laws across U.S. states. The other one identifies technologically induced variation in broadband Internet availability that gives rise to variation in ICT skills across German municipalities. Together, the results suggest that least-squares estimates may provide a lower bound of the true returns to skills in the labor market.
Sign Restrictions, Structural Vector Autoregressions, and Useful Prior Information
This paper makes the following original contributions to the literature. (i) We develop a simpler analytical characterization and numerical algorithm for Bayesian inference in structural vector autoregressions (VARs) that can be used for models that are overidentified, just‐identified, or underidentified. (ii) We analyze the asymptotic properties of Bayesian inference and show that in the underidentified case, the asymptotic posterior distribution of contemporaneous coefficients in an n‐variable VAR is confined to the set of values that orthogonalize the population variance–covariance matrix of ordinary least squares residuals, with the height of the posterior proportional to the height of the prior at any point within that set. For example, in a bivariate VAR for supply and demand identified solely by sign restrictions, if the population correlation between the VAR residuals is positive, then even if one has available an infinite sample of data, any inference about the demand elasticity is coming exclusively from the prior distribution. (iii) We provide analytical characterizations of the informative prior distributions for impulse‐response functions that are implicit in the traditional sign‐restriction approach to VARs, and we note, as a special case of result (ii), that the influence of these priors does not vanish asymptotically. (iv) We illustrate how Bayesian inference with informative priors can be both a strict generalization and an unambiguous improvement over frequentist inference in just‐identified models. (v) We propose that researchers need to explicitly acknowledge and defend the role of prior beliefs in influencing structural conclusions and we illustrate how this could be done using a simple model of the U.S. labor market.