Department of Economics University of Minnesota
Phone-(612) 625-0941 4-101 Hanson Hall (off 4-179) Fed
Phone (612) 204-5528 1925 Fourth Street South Fax: (612)
624-0209 Minneapolis, MN 55455.
Homepage
http://www.econ.umn.edu/~vr0j/index.html
Wed 11:20-1:00 Hanson Hall 4-170. Some Mondays 1:45 -
3:45 in 4-170 Hanson will substitute for Wednesdays. Off
Hours: Before and after class and by appointment.
email:
vr0j@umn.edu.
The course is over, but I will check on the homeworks.
Alessandra Fogli has organized a
session on how to analyze geographical data (things happen
somewhere and we may want to know how it propagates). Anyone
interested is welcome to attend. The session (GIS workshop) will be in 90 Blegen Hall from 8 a.m. until noon on Thursday of next week (12/16). More info in
Geographic
Information System's Page.
A preliminary version of the
Syllabus. It is very likely that it will change. I
will update it.
Other relevant links.
Here you may find an occasional
paper, homepage or subroutine of interest.
What are we doing?
A class by class ex-post diary.
Sept 8.
We talked about the class, and what it
is about. We went over all the details. We started with a
discussion of the first homework and of what is the
meaning of an approximation to a function and the
criterias (family of approximating functions, criteria
od distance, and method to find it) that are used to
describe an approximation approach.
Sept 15
John Seliski discussed the problems
with real data that has been chain indexed (it is no
longer additive) and the use of Tornquist aggregators to
transform then into additive series. We discussed the
construction of the series for the Solow residual. This
requires the imputation of all series in NIPA on the
factor side to either capital or labor and the addition
of some components that are not in GDP but will be in
our measure of output (services from Government capital
and from consumer durables). Look at Cooley and
Prescott's chapter in the Cooley volume or the
appendices here
or here
for details.
Sept 22
We discussed how to use the
stochastic properties of the time series and the basic
growth model to answer the question about the role of
productivity shocks in shaping output fluctuations. In
particular, we talked about how to calibrate a model
economy so that its steady state looks like the U.S. in
the dimensions that we want.
Sept 29
David Wiczer lectured on how to
read data sets both cross section and
panel. These are his notes for
using data sets The notes come from a long
tradition. The stuff David teaches is the crucial
input for homework batch 4. This is perhaps the most
useful class of all.
Oct 6
We discussed how to use data
generated by the model for comparisons with the
U.S. data. We talked about how, when and what to filter
and compare. We also looked at the
alternative way of operationally answering the question
that we are addressing with formal
econometrics. Finally, we started the discussion of
global approximation methods with emphasis on the
piecewise approximation and exact solution in the grid
points.
Oct 13
David used these
slides to describe Chebyshev approximations. Thanks
David. He also outlined Indirect indifference and also
talked about how to approximate a continuous AR(1) with
a Markov chain.
Oct 20
Andrea presented stuff on global
methods. There we learned a few tricks of how to think
of functions to approximate. Thanks Andrea. We also
discussed some of the problems involved in estimation
the variance decomposition to the three shocks (two to
preferences and one to technology). Hopefully, we will
sort it out next wednesday in the global presentation. I
then talked a bit about splines and their properties;
about the global approximation when there are both
leisure and Markovian shocks; and about the problem with
storing, saving and updating measures. The
corresponding homework is a version of Aiyagari's
economy with leisure. In it we do not care yet about
either calibration or equilibrium. Just obtaining a
stationary distribution of households giving that the
parameters of the problem and constant prices and
interest rates.
Oct 27
We talked more about how to solve the
decision rules with labor in the Aiyagari economy. We
then discussed how it is the equilibrium of a small open
economy or how to solve for that of a closed economy. We
also discuss how to calibrate the economy at least for
some moments. This is the core of the homework batch 7
that was slightly changed. Finally, we also talked
about how to do once and for all unexpected changes in
the environment such as the doubling of
productivity. This has a small homework (batch
8).
Nov 3
Marcelo talked about obtaining the
piecewise approximation by iterating not on the decision
rule but on its inverse. He discussed how easy it is to
solve for today's assets and also how to construct the
inverse checking that the bounds are fine. Among the
questions asked, there is one about transition in the
Aiyagari world that I still need to answer. I then
talked about the Krusell Smith with no leisure and the
extent that there is limited rationality.
Nov 15
There were two presentations. Sebastian
presented the details of the implementation of the
simple Krusell-Smith environment. He also discussed some
of its properties and the accuracy of the
approximation. Zhen then gave as a very nice discussion
of how the endogenous grid method with search and the
use of consumption functions even with endogenous labor
can be very useful. I learned a lot from the two
presentations. I then turned to discuss how to solve
equilibria with uncertainty when we do not know which
moments are sufficient statistics for prices. These
include economies like that in Krusell-Smith but where
there is labor choice, or the possibility of savings in
stocks and in bonds, or even where there are housing
prices. The key here is to do a two step procedure. In
it, we have a value function for tomorrow, over which we
use forecasted prices. However, to solve it for today we
use current prices which require the solution to a
market clearing equation every time we iterate on the
solution.
Nov 17
We looked at a problem with discrete
choice. The problem of bankruptcy. We did many things
while talking about it. Discussing the problem of non
concavity. The issue of the default set. The interplay
between continuous and discrete variables. The iterative
process to solve the model. All this is a condensed
review of the 2007 Econometrica paper joint with
Chatterjee, Corbae, and Nakajima.
Nov 24
We talked about families. First, we
look at various demographic details (early death, what
about their assets), then about how to model preferences
when there are two people (Pareto weights, bargaining,
limited commitment a la Marcet/Marimon), then how to
think about marital status as shocks. Throughout this
class all problems can be solved with standard methods
that use the FOC of the problem.
Dec 1
We talked about the last homeworks and we
discussed a couple. The one about tax policy in the
Aiyagari world, and one about the second order approximation
and its possible impact in the computation of welfare. We then
discused a variety of issues that apper in family economics and
in discrete choice models. We went over a few techniques to solve
those models. Some involve discrete choices and discrete states.
Others involve continues choices and discrete states. Some other times
we use shocks to smooth the solutions. Finally I talked about
issues that arise when two parties have to agree. I talked about
seduction games and the issue that both parties of the transaction
need to agree.
Dec 8
This was the last day of class. I did derive the GEE of a the recursive problem that yields the time consistent Markovian optimal provision of public expenditures with income taxes and a period by period balanced budget constraint. Two functional equations are involved, that of the government FOC (the GEE) that involves not only functions but also the derivatives of those functions and the FOC of the household. We talked about how to use global methods to solve it, or to use successive derivatives (assuming the policy functions are polynomials of increasing order).
Course Description
The target of this course is for you to be able to go to a
macro seminar and to realize after the layout of the model
that you are able to solve it, and relate it to data, probably
much better than the presenter.
This course can be thought of as an addendum to the Macro
sequence, it follows naturally after 8105-8108. Its purpose is
to learn the map from models to data i.e. to answer
quantitative questions that we are interested in (in the
process of doing so, some interesting theoretical questions
arise). We will develop tools by stating general questions,
and then discussing how to approach its answer. The tools
that we will be developing beyond those already covered in the
first year can be grouped into:
Theoretical tools. Not all the
necessary tools have been acquired in the first year. We
will look at representative agent models, models with a
continuum of agents represented with measures, overlapping
generations models, as well as models where agents form
households. We will look at models where equilibria are
optima and where they are not. We will look at stationary
and non--stationary equilibria. We will look at models
without perfect commitment and without perfect
information.
Empirical tools. A necessary condition
to be able to do applied theory is to be able to
characterize some properties of the world. This involves the
capability of accessing data sets and of understanding the
way they are organized as well as the principles that guide
the construction of the main sources. This requires some
knowledge of NIPA and of some software to read data (eviews,
stata, gretl, R).
Computational Tools. Students should
be able to construct and characterize the properties of the
equlibrium allocations of artificial model economies. This
is the main element of the course and where you will spend
most of the time.
Calibration. We will spend a good deal
of time thinking of how a model is related to the data. This
is I think the more important part of the learning process.
This is a Ph.D. course not a Masters course. As such students
are not expected to learn what other people have discovered, but
the tools that are needed in order to discover things by
themselves. Because of this reason the active work of the
students is crucial to achieve the objective of mastering the
tools that are described above. This is a course to learn to do
things, and, therefore, it requires to do some things.
Every class except the first one we will devote the first
twenty minutes or so to students presentations of
homeworks. I expect professional competence in this regard.
Course Requirements
There are various types of requirements that are a necessary
part of the course, all of which are pertinent in order to
achieve fulfillment of the course goals. This course believes
drastically in Learning by Doing but, on the other hand, you
are adults.
Regular Homeworks.The ones posted
here. Full credit only if on time. Partial credit otherwise.
Students will place the solution to the homeworks and to
other requirements in electronic form. You have to send an
email ASAP to help@cla.umn.edu stating your name and
university email and username and that you are in my course
to have access to a directory named /pkg/econ8185 and a
subdirectory your user name.
Class Presentations Every student
will make at least two class presentations with at least
one being of a subset of a homework. The first
presentation should take no more than 15 minutes and it
will be absolutely professional. Every second wasted,
every statement not planned, every bad thing will be
highlighted. The second presentation (that will depend on
class size and interests) maybe on a paper or on another
homework.
Referee Report. I will assign a
paper to each of you as we go along to write a referee
report and perhaps also to present the paper in no more
than 20 minutes. The refere report should be no longer
than five pages and should contain a clear and concise
exposition of the main points of the article as well as a
critical evaluation of the article's contributions. In
addition, you should write a letter to the editor with
your personal recommendations. If very good, I will use
them, anonymously.
Wikipedia Article. Optional, but
excellent training. This is something that should be done
by the end of the course. The moment you post it email me
and place a copy in your directory. Think of a topic of
the course no matter how silly.
Class schedules.
This class occurs mostly on Wed 11:20 to 1 in Hanson Hall
4-170 for the whole first semester. This is a mini length course
yet, the need for long homeworks on your regard makes advisable to
extend its duration. In addition, due to travels and other things
we will teach on other times whenever I am out of town on
Wednesdays. For the sake of paralellism, the main candidate as a
substitute is Monday 11:20 to 1. See this homepage for details.
What about knowledge of Computers?
This is not a course in computer languages so students are
responsible to learn to write computer programs. Students are
also responsible for learning their way around McNeil
computational facilities. I do not expect anybody to have a
computer at home or anything like that. It is better to work
in McNeill's computer room because you can talk to each other.
There are various general classes of computer languages.
Fortran 90. This is the best and more powerfull computer
language. Among economists very few prefer C. It is a little
bit hard at the beginning (you have to declare variables and
the like) but students have told me it is well worth to learn
as soon as possible. A very good introduction to fortran can
be
found
here.
MPI and open MP. This is the mother of all serious
calculations. It is a form of using f90 to parallelize code
and take advantage of various hardwares.
Matlab, Gauss, Scilab, Octave and R. These are very
popular packages in economics. They are relatively easy to
learn and code writing is easy. They generate a lot slower
code than F90 (about 100 times) but they are probably a good
choice to solve some problems. They may have an interface
with f90 but I have never seen it working. Matlab is by now
used in 90% of the cases. R and Octave are free. Dynare works
with Matlab and Octave and it is dumb simple.
Stata, Eviews, R, Gretl, and Maple, SAS. These are
packages best suited for reading data. State is the most
popular and expensive. (I have used fortran for this which is
insane, others have used Gauss). Still it is worth to learn
stata.
Mathematica and Maple. These are packages capable of
doing symbolic manipulation of equations. Occasionally they
can also be used to do numeric calculations. It does not hurt
to know them. They may work together with matlab and sciword.
Excel, open office Calc. A dirty thing to do fast data
manipulation. Perfect for grades. And to get output of
models. Calc is free and slow.
A program to write plots. Sciword does it as matlab and
excel and gauss. Some dinosaurs like me use gnuplot.
Students should be able to write code in F90 in addition to matlab
or gauss and to stata. Most students tell me in later years that I
should have enforced harder the learning of F90, but I am willing
to consider exceptions. If somebody has a serious reason not to
use F90, please come and talk to me. At least one homework should
be answered in f90.
Grading Rules
To satisfactorily complete the course, students have to do the
requirements well.
For those that do not register but take the course, I recommend
that they do the homeworks. We learn to solve problems by facing
them. Learning jointly with others greatly speeds the process.
Cooley and Prescott,
[1995]. It is now dated but it contains some important
lines of attack on business cycles. The computational
techniques are a little bit obsolete, but the questions less
so.
Judd, [1998].
is a general computational textbook with special attention
to economists. While it is short on some details that we
care about (complicated equilibrium considerations,
multidimensional value functions, multidimensional
interpolation) it is a very useful book for many topics.
Marimon and Scott,
[1998]. It has a bunch of chapters that deal with
specific problems. I find the continuous time chapter nice
as well as some scattered other chapters.
Miranda and Fackler,
[2002]. It is quite a nice book. Like others it is too
irrelevant in some places and too easy in others. It is
designed for matlab which is a pity, but it has a nice
implementation (via a <a
href="http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/users/p/pfackler/www/compecon/toolbox.html"
> downloadable toolbox</a>) of function global
approximations.
Heer and Maussner,
[2004].
This is a nice book with a lot more economics than the others. Its
consideration of the theory is closest to what we do. It has also many
examples. The codes can be found
here.