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Optimally Imprecise Memory and Biased Forecasts

February 20, 2019 @ 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

2/20/2019 Colloquium

Speaker: Michael Woodford (Columbia)

Title: Optimally Imprecise Memory and Biased Forecasts

Abstract: We propose a model of optimal decision making subject to a memory constraint. The constraint is a limit on the complexity of memory measured using Shannon’s mutual information, as in models of rational inattention; the structure of the imprecise memory is optimized (for a given decision problem and noisy environment) subject to this constraint. We characterize the form of the optimally imprecise memory, and show that the model implies that both forecasts and actions will exhibit idiosyncratic random variation; that beliefs will fluctuate forever around the rational-expectations (perfect-memory) beliefs with a variance that does not fall to zero; and that more recent news will be given disproportionate weight. The model provides a simple explanation for a number of features of observed forecast bias in laboratory and field settings. [Joint work with Rava Azeredo da Silveira and Yeji Sung


February 20, 2019
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
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20 Garden Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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