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The Gorman Lectures in Economics

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The Gorman Lectures in Economics


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Forward-Looking Decision Making

Dynamic Programming Models Applied to Health, Risk, Employment, and Financial Stability

Robert E. Hall

Individuals and families make key decisions that impact many aspects of financial stability and determine the future of the economy. These decisions involve balancing current sacrifice against future benefits. People have to decide how much to invest in health care, exercise, their diet, and insurance. They must decide how much debt to take on, and how much to save. And they make choices about jobs that determine employment and unemployment levels. Forward-Looking Decision Making is about modeling this individual or family-based decision making using an optimizing dynamic programming model.

Robert Hall first reviews ideas about dynamic programs and introduces new ideas about numerical solutions and the representation of solved models as Markov processes. He surveys recent research on the parameters of preferences--the intertemporal elasticity of substitution, the Frisch elasticity of labor supply, and the Frisch cross-elasticity. He then examines dynamic programming models applied to health spending, long-term care insurance, employment, entrepreneurial risk-taking, and consumer debt.

Linking theory with data and applying them to real-world problems, Forward-Looking Decision Making uses dynamic optimization programming models to shed light on individual behaviors and their economic implications.

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Lawlessness and Economics

Alternative Modes of Governance

Avinash K. Dixit

How can property rights be protected and contracts be enforced in countries where the rule of law is ineffective or absent? How can firms from advanced market economies do business in such circumstances? In Lawlessness and Economics, Avinash Dixit examines the theory of private institutions that transcend or supplement weak economic governance from the state.

In much of the world and through much of history, private mechanisms--such as long-term relationships, arbitration, social networks to disseminate information and norms to impose sanctions, and for-profit enforcement services--have grown up in place of formal, state-governed institutions. Even in countries with strong legal systems, many of these mechanisms continue under the shadow of the law. Numerous case studies and empirical investigations have demonstrated the variety, importance, and merits, and drawbacks of such institutions.

This book builds on these studies and constructs a toolkit of theoretical models to analyze them. The models shed new conceptual light on the different modes of governance, and deepen our understanding of the interaction of the alternative institutions with each other and with the government's law. For example, one model explains the limit on the size of social networks and illuminates problems in the transition to more formal legal systems as economies grow beyond this limit. Other models explain why for-profit enforcement is inefficient. The models also help us understand why state law dovetails with some non-state institutions and collides with others. This can help less-developed countries and transition economies devise better processes for the introduction or reform of their formal legal systems.

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Recursive Models of Dynamic Linear Economies

Lars Peter Hansen

A common set of mathematical tools underlies dynamic optimization, dynamic estimation, and filtering. In Recursive Models of Dynamic Linear Economies, Lars Peter Hansen and Thomas Sargent use these tools to create a class of econometrically tractable models of prices and quantities. They present examples from microeconomics, macroeconomics, and asset pricing. The models are cast in terms of a representative consumer. While Hansen and Sargent demonstrate the analytical benefits acquired when an analysis with a representative consumer is possible, they also characterize the restrictiveness of assumptions under which a representative household justifies a purely aggregative analysis.

Based on the 2012 Gorman lectures, the authors unite economic theory with a workable econometrics while going beyond and beneath demand and supply curves for dynamic economies. They construct and apply competitive equilibria for a class of linear-quadratic-Gaussian dynamic economies with complete markets. Their book stresses heterogeneity, aggregation, and how a common structure unites what superficially appear to be diverse applications. An appendix describes MATLAB ® programs that apply to the book’s calculations.


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