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Edward C. Prescott

Bio: Edward C. Prescott is an academic researcher from Arizona State University. The author has contributed to research in topics: General equilibrium theory & Business cycle. The author has an hindex of 72, co-authored 235 publications receiving 55508 citations. Previous affiliations of Edward C. Prescott include National Bureau of Economic Research & University of Minnesota.


Papers
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, it was shown that discretionary policy does not result in the social objective function being maximized, and that there is no way control theory can be made applicable to economic planning when expectations are rational.
Abstract: Even if there is an agreed-upon, fixed social objective function and policymakers know the timing and magnitude of the effects of their actions, discretionary policy, namely, the selection of that decision which is best, given the current situation and a correct evaluation of the end-of-period position, does not result in the social objective function being maximized. The reason for this apparent paradox is that economic planning is not a game against nature but, rather, a game against rational economic agents. We conclude that there is no way control theory can be made applicable to economic planning when expectations are rational.

7,652 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper showed that an equilibrium model which is not an Arrow-Debreu economy will be the one that simultaneously rationalizes both historically observed large average equity return and the small average risk-free return.

6,141 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, a procedure for representing a times series as the sum of a smoothly varying trend component and a cyclical component is proposed, and the nature of the comovements of the cyclical components of a variety of macroeconomic time series is documented.
Abstract: A study documents some features of aggregate economic fluctuations sometimes referred to as business cycles. The investigation uses quarterly data from the postwar US economy. The fluctuations studied are those that are too rapid to be accounted for by slowly changing demographic and technological factors and changes in the stocks of capital that produce secular growth in output per capita. The study proposes a procedure for representing a times series as the sum of a smoothly varying trend component and a cyclical component. The nature of the comovements of the cyclical components of a variety of macroeconomic time series is documented. It is found that these comovements are very different than the corresponding comovements of the slowly varying trend components.

5,998 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, a general equilibrium model is developed and fitted to U.S. quarterly data for the post-war period, with the assumption that more than one time period is required for the construction of new productive capital and the non-time-separable utility function that admits greater intertemporal substitution of leisure.
Abstract: The equilibrium growth model is modified and used to explain the cyclical variances of a set of economic time series, the covariances between real output and the other series, and the autocovariance of output. The model is fitted to quarterly data for the post-war U.S. economy. Crucial features of the model are the assumption that more than one time period is required for the construction of new productive capital, and the non-time-separable utility function that admits greater intertemporal substitution of leisure. The fit is surprisingly good in light of the model's simplicity and the small number of free parameters. THAT WINE IS NOT MADE in a day has long been recognized by economists (e.g., Bdhm-Bawerk [6]). But, neither are ships nor factories built in a day. A thesis of this essay is that the assumption of multiple-period construction is crucial for explaining aggregate fluctuations. A general equilibrium model is developed and fitted to U.S. quarterly data for the post-war period. The co-movements of the fluctuations for the fitted model are quantitatively consistent with the corresponding co-movements for U.S. data. In addition, the serial correlations of cyclical output for the model match well with those observed. Our approach integrates growth and business cycle theory. Like standard growth theory, a representative infinitely-lived household is assumed. As fluctuations in employment are central to the business cycle, the stand-in consumer values not only consumption but also leisure. One very important modification to the standard growth model is that multiple periods are required to build new capital goods and only finished capital goods are part of the productive capital stock. Each stage of production requires a period and utilizes resources. Halffinished ships and factories are not part of the productive capital stock. Section 2 contains a short critique of the commonly used investment technologies, and presents evidence that single-period production, even with adjustment costs, is inadequate. The preference-technology-information structure of the model is presented in Section 3. A crucial feature of preferences is the non-time-separable utility function that admits greater intertemporal substitution of leisure. The exogenous stochastic components in the model are shocks to technology and imperfect indicators of productivity. The two technology shocks differ in their persistence.

5,728 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This article defined investment as the act of incurring an immediate cost in the expectation of future rewards, i.e., the payments it must make to extract itself from contractual commitments, including severance payments to labor, are the initial expenditure, and the prospective reward is the reduction in future losses.
Abstract: Economics defines investment as the act of incurring an immediate cost in the expectation of future rewards. Firms that construct plants and install equipment, merchants who lay in a stock of goods for sale, and persons who spend time on vocational education are all investors in this sense. Somewhat less obviously, a firm that shuts down a loss-making plant is also \"investing\": the payments it must make to extract itself from contractual commitments, including severance payments to labor, are the initial expenditure, and the prospective reward is the reduction in future losses.

3,648 citations


Cited by
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors argue that the style in which their builders construct claims for a connection between these models and reality is inappropriate, to the point at which claims for identification in these models cannot be taken seriously.
Abstract: Existing strategies for econometric analysis related to macroeconomics are subject to a number of serious objections, some recently formulated, some old. These objections are summarized in this paper, and it is argued that taken together they make it unlikely that macroeconomic models are in fact over identified, as the existing statistical theory usually assumes. The implications of this conclusion are explored, and an example of econometric work in a non-standard style, taking account of the objections to the standard style, is presented. THE STUDY OF THE BUSINESS cycle, fluctuations in aggregate measures of economic activity and prices over periods from one to ten years or so, constitutes or motivates a large part of what we call macroeconomics. Most economists would agree that there are many macroeconomic variables whose cyclical fluctuations are of interest, and would agree further that fluctuations in these series are interrelated. It would seem to follow almost tautologically that statistical models involving large numbers of macroeconomic variables ought to be the arena within which macroeconomic theories confront reality and thereby each other. Instead, though large-scale statistical macroeconomic models exist and are by some criteria successful, a deep vein of skepticism about the value of these models runs through that part of the economics profession not actively engaged in constructing or using them. It is still rare for empirical research in macroeconomics to be planned and executed within the framework of one of the large models. In this lecture I intend to discuss some aspects of this situation, attempting both to offer some explanations and to suggest some means for improvement. I will argue that the style in which their builders construct claims for a connection between these models and reality-the style in which "identification" is achieved for these models-is inappropriate, to the point at which claims for identification in these models cannot be taken seriously. This is a venerable assertion; and there are some good old reasons for believing it;2 but there are also some reasons which have been more recently put forth. After developing the conclusion that the identification claimed for existing large-scale models is incredible, I will discuss what ought to be done in consequence. The line of argument is: large-scale models do perform useful forecasting and policy-analysis functions despite their incredible identification; the restrictions imposed in the usual style of identification are neither essential to constructing a model which can perform these functions nor innocuous; an alternative style of identification is available and practical. Finally we will look at some empirical work based on an alternative style of macroeconometrics. A six-variable dynamic system is estimated without using 1 Research for this paper was supported by NSF Grant Soc-76-02482. Lars Hansen executed the computations. The paper has benefited from comments by many people, especially Thomas J. Sargent

11,195 citations

Book ChapterDOI
TL;DR: This paper provides a concise overview of time series analysis in the time and frequency domains with lots of references for further reading.
Abstract: Any series of observations ordered along a single dimension, such as time, may be thought of as a time series. The emphasis in time series analysis is on studying the dependence among observations at different points in time. What distinguishes time series analysis from general multivariate analysis is precisely the temporal order imposed on the observations. Many economic variables, such as GNP and its components, price indices, sales, and stock returns are observed over time. In addition to being interested in the contemporaneous relationships among such variables, we are often concerned with relationships between their current and past values, that is, relationships over time.

9,919 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors examine how recent econometric policy evaluation research on monetary policy rules can be applied in a practical policymaking environment, and the discussion centers around a hypothetical but representative policy rule much like that advocated in recent research.

8,414 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, it was shown that discretionary policy does not result in the social objective function being maximized, and that there is no way control theory can be made applicable to economic planning when expectations are rational.
Abstract: Even if there is an agreed-upon, fixed social objective function and policymakers know the timing and magnitude of the effects of their actions, discretionary policy, namely, the selection of that decision which is best, given the current situation and a correct evaluation of the end-of-period position, does not result in the social objective function being maximized. The reason for this apparent paradox is that economic planning is not a game against nature but, rather, a game against rational economic agents. We conclude that there is no way control theory can be made applicable to economic planning when expectations are rational.

7,652 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper showed that differences in physical capital and educational attainment can only partially explain the variation in output per worker, and that a large amount of variation in the level of the Solow residual across countries is driven by differences in institutions and government policies.
Abstract: Output per worker varies enormously across countries. Why? On an accounting basis, our analysis shows that differences in physical capital and educational attainment can only partially explain the variation in output per worker--we find a large amount of variation in the level of the Solow residual across countries. At a deeper level, we document that the differences in capital accumulation, productivity, and therefore output per worker are driven by differences in institutions and government policies, which we call social infrastructure. We treat social infrastructure as endogenous, determined historically by location and other factors captured in part by language.

7,208 citations