Conventional economic models failed to foresee the financial crisis. Could agent-based modelling do better?
Mainstream economics has always had its dissidents. But the discipline’s failure to predict the financial crisis has made the ground especially fertile for a rethink. Critics tend to agree on what is wrong with current macroeconomic forecasting. A hearing of the House of Representatives Committee of Science and Technology on July 20th targeted the “dynamic stochastic general equilibrium” (DSGE) models used by the Federal Reserve and other central banks. The hearing aimed to “question the wisdom of relying for national economic policy on a single, specific model when alternatives are available.” The Institute for New Economic Thinking in New York, which had its inaugural conference in April, has attacked many of the assumptions, including efficient financial markets and rational expectations, on which these models are predicated. These assumptions were clearly too simplistic. But there is less agreement on what should replace the old ways.