Experiments, Passive Observation and Scenario Analysis: Trygve Haavelmo and the Cointegrated Vector Autoregression

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats



The paper provides a careful, analytical account of Trygve Haavelmo's unsystematic, but important, use of the analogy between controlled experiments common in the natural sciences and econometric techniques. The experimental analogy forms the linchpin of the methodology for passive observation that he develops in his famous monograph, The Probability Approach in Econometrics (1944). We show how, once the details of the analogy are systematically understood, the experimental analogy can be used to shed light on theory-consistent cointegrated vector autoregression (CVAR) scenario analysis. CVAR scenario analysis can be seen as a clear example of Haavelmo's 'experimental' approach; and, in turn, it can be shown to extend and develop Haavelmo's methodology and to address issues that Haavelmo regarded as unresolved.







Kevin Douglas Hoover

Professor of Economics

Professor Hoover's research interests include macroeconomics, monetary economics, the history of economics, and the philosophy and methodology of empirical economics. His recent work in economics has focused on the application of causal search methodologies for structural vector autoregression, the history of microfoundational programs in macroeconomics, and Roy Harrod's early work on dynamic macroeconomics. In philosophy, he has concentrated on issues related to causality, especially in economics, and on reductionism -- the philosophical counterpart to microfoundations. Recent publications include:

  • "Trygve Haavelmo's Experimental Methodology and Scenario Analysis in a Cointegrated Vector Autoregression" (Econometric Theory, 2015), 
  • "Reductionism in Economics:  Intentionality and Eschatological Justification in the Microfoundations of Macroeconomics" (Philosophy of Science 2015), 
  • "Mathematical Economics Comes to America:  Charles S. Peirce’s Engagement with Cournot’s Recherches sur les Principes Mathematiques de la Théorie des Richesses" (Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 2015), 
  • "The Genesis of Samuelson and Solow’s Price-Inflation Phillips Curve" (History of Economics Review, 2015), 
  • "Solow's Harrod: Transforming Cyclical Dynamics into a Model of Long-run Growth" (European Journal of the History of Economic Thought 2015), 
  • "In the Kingdom of Solovia:  The Rise of Growth Economics at MIT, 1956-1970" (History of Political Economy 2014), 
  • “Still Puzzling: Evaluating the Price Puzzle in an Empirically Identified Structural Vector Autoregression” (Empirical Economics, 2014),
  • "On the Reception of Haavelmo's Econometric Thought" (Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 2014) – winner of the History of Economics Society Best Paper Award in 2015.  

Material is made available in this collection at the direction of authors according to their understanding of their rights in that material. You may download and use these materials in any manner not prohibited by copyright or other applicable law.