Friday, January 09, 2015

Uncertainty and disagreement

Liberty Street Economics (US Fed research blog) examines the difference between uncertainty and disagreement.

"Uncertainty is of considerable interest for understanding the behavior of individuals as well as the movements in key macroeconomic and financial variables. Despite its importance, direct measures of uncertainty aren’t widely available. Because of this data limitation, a common practice is to use survey-based measures of forecast dispersion—reflecting disagreement among respondents—to proxy for uncertainty. Is this a reliable practice? Here, we review the distinction between disagreement and uncertainty as concepts, and show that this conceptual distinction carries over to their empirical counterparts, suggesting that disagreement is not generally a good proxy for uncertainty. "

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