[OPE-L:6210] Re: Re: econometrics

From: Andrew Brown (Andrew@lubs.leeds.ac.uk)
Date: Tue Nov 20 2001 - 05:33:56 EST


I doubt very much whether there has ever been one refereed journal 
article which 'did econometrics right', even on your own criteria 
(which I think are a small subset of the full required criteria). This is 
the case even for say the Hendry type procedures which ostensibly 
are all about testing for the required properties of the error term. All 
practicing econometricians I know end up bending their own rules 
(the rules you describe) to get the 'right' results. Data mining is 
simply endemic and inescapable in a world of 'publish or die'. More 
interesting is to actually ask someone doing econometrics with 
some data set what they *really* think it tells them - and this may 
give some scientifically interesting answers - but what ever the 
answers are they always involve  making difficult judgements in the 
face of some or other necessary theoretical assumption being 
broken. This 'art' of econometrics - making judgements as to the 
quantitative significance of breakdowns of theoretical assumptions  
seems an entrirely 'tacit' art with no rules written down in 
textbooks. For myself, it is an art that I struggle with - I simply 
cannot work out what the output tells me without the assumptions 
that would make it unambiguously meaningful. It's not a question of 
being an imperfect, imprecise buisines as Patrick seems to 
suggest. It's more a question of a 'perfect' formal theory (theoretical 
econometrics) whose application outside of such perfection (in the 
real world where some necessary assumption or other does not 
unambiguously hold) is, strictly speaking, *utter nonsense*!!

Re Lawson: I think you must disagree with Lawson's 
characterisation of neoclassical economics somewhere along the 
line since, whether one agrees with his critique or not, his 
characterisation firmly ties the growth of neoclassical economics to 
the growth of econometrics - something you appear to want to 
deny. I'm yet to read your article on Lawson (I recently did a web 
search and it was one of the few articles that I could not actually 
download)- would be interested in your reflections on the exchange.



On 19 Nov 2001, at 14:47, Allin Cottrell wrote:

> On Mon, 19 Nov 2001, Andrew Brown wrote:
> > 1) Whether the only game or not, the trouble I find with typical
> > econometric methods (typically based on multiple regression), is
> > that the theoretical assumptions are *always* broken...
> It's difficult to do econometrics right -- but doing it right involves
> rigorous testing for violation of the required statistical properties
> of the error term, and the use of alternative estimators where needed.
> > 2) Does 'calibration' count as another game so suggesting there is
> > another game in town after all?
> I think you're right, calibration is an alternative -- for researchers
> who are certain in advance that their theory is right and who just
> want to quantify parameters rather than test hypotheses.
> > 3) Why do you (Allin) reject Tony Lawson's characterisation of
> > neoclassical economics as deductivist? As you know, Lawson's
> > arguments tie econometrics closely to neoclassical economics, if
> > they are accepted.
> I don't think I disagree with Tony Lawson's characterization of
> neoclassical economics as such.  I'm less persuaded by his critique of
> econometrics.  This is a rather complex subject; I wrote about it in
> "Realism, Regularities and Prediction" (Review of Social Economy,
> LVI/3, Fall 1998).
> Allin Cottrell.

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