Recovering Stars in Macroeconomics

Author name: 
Buncic D
Pagan A
Robinson T

Many key macroeconomic variables such as the NAIRU, potential GDP, and the neutral real rate of interest—which are needed for policy analysis—are latent. Collectively, these latent variables are known as ‘stars’ and are typically estimated using the Kalman filter or smoother from models that can be expressed in State Space form. When these models contain more shocks than observed variables, they are ‘short’, and potentially create issues in recovering the star variable of interest from the observed data. Recovery issues can occur when the model is correctly specified and its parameters are known. In this paper, we summarize the literature on shock recovery and demonstrate its implications for estimating stars in a number of widely used models in policy analysis. The ability of many popular and recent models to recover stars is shown to be limited. We suggest ways this can be addressed.

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