Friday, December 12, 2014

"The Error Term in the History of Time Series Econometrics"

While we're on the subject of the history of econometrics ......... blog-reader Mark Leeds kindly drew my attention to this interesting paper published by Duo Qin and Christopher Gilbert in Econometric Theory in 2001.

I don't recall reading this paper before - my loss.

Mark supplied me with a pre-publication version of the paper, which you can download here if you don't have access to Econometric Theory.

Here's the abstract:
"We argue that many methodological confusions in time-series econometrics may be seen as arising out of ambivalence or confusion about the error terms. Relationships between macroeconomic time series are inexact and, inevitably, the early econometricians found that any estimated relationship would only fit with errors. Slutsky interpreted these errors as shocks that constitute the motive force behind business cycles. Frisch tried to dissect further the errors into two parts: stimuli, which are analogous to shocks, and nuisance aberrations. However, he failed to provide a statistical framework to make this distinction operational. Haavelmo, and subsequent researchers at the Cowles Commission, saw errors in equations as providing the statistical foundations for econometric models, and required that they conform to a priori distributional assumptions specified in structural models of the general equilibrium type, later known as simultaneous-equations models (SEM). Since theoretical models were at that time mostly static, the structural modelling strategy relegated the dynamics in time-series data frequently to nuisance, atheoretical complications. Revival of the shock interpretation in theoretical models came about through the rational expectations movement and development of the VAR (Vector AutoRegression) modelling approach. The so-called LSE (London School of Economics) dynamic specification approach decomposes the dynamics of modelled variable into three parts: short-run shocks, disequilibrium shocks and innovative residuals, with only the first two of these sustaining an economic interpretation."

© 2014, David E. Giles

More on the History of Econometrics From Olav Bjerkholt

If you look back at the various posts on this blog in the category of History of Econometrics, you'll find that I've often mentioned papers written by Olav Bjerkholt, of the University of Oslo.

Olav has drawn my attention to two more recent papers of his. They're titled, "Econometric Society 1930: How it Got Founded", and "Glimpses of Henry Schultz in Mussolini's Italy 1934". The second of these is co-authored with Daniela Parisi.

Here's the abstract from the first paper:
"The Econometric Society was founded at an “organization meeting” in December 1930. The invitations had been issued by Irving Fisher, Ragnar Frisch and, Charles F. Roos. In June the same year they had sent a form letter to a list of 31 scholars to solicit advice about establishing an international association “to help in gradually converting economics into a genuine and recognized science.” The responses of these scholars from ten different countries are set out at some length in the paper. Rather than persevering in building a constituency of adherents on which a society could be founded the three initiators decided to rush ahead and sent out invitations to an organization meeting to found the Econometric Society at short notice. The paper discusses possible reasons for the change of pace, indicating that Schumpeter had a decisive role, and gives an account of the deliberations of the organization meeting founding the Econometric Society."

The second paper covers material that I was previously quite unaware of. Here's the abstract:
"Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, Henry Schultz, spent a sabbatical year in Europe in 1933/34 working on his forthcoming monograph The Theory and Measurement of Demand (Schultz 1938). During the year he found time to travel in 6-7 countries meeting economists and other scholars. The article describes and comments his seven weeks long visit to Italy in March-April 1934. The glimpses of Henry Schultz in Italy are provided by Schultz’s own brief diary notes during that visit. Henry Schultz was a prominent member of the Econometric Society and had been present at the organization meeting of the Society in 1930. In Italy he met with practically all the leading econometricians in Italy. Schultz was particularly interested in the stand taken by Italian economists on Mussolini’s Corporate State and also in the situation of Jews under fascism. Schultz followed a tourist trail in Italy visiting also Roman and Etruscan remains and a number of places of Christian worship."
My thanks to Olav for alerting me to these two fascinating papers.

© 2014, David E. Giles