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Filip Matějka

31 January 2017
Dynamic rational inattention problems used to be difficult to solve. This paper provides simple, analytical results for dynamic rational inattention problems. We start from the benchmark rational inattention problem. An agent tracks a variable of interest that follows a Gaussian process. The agent chooses how to pay attention to this variable. The agent aims to minimize, say, the mean squared error subject to a constraint on information flow, as in Sims (2003). We prove that if the variable of interest follows an ARMA(p,q) process, the optimal signal is about a linear combination of {Xt,…,Xt-p+1} and {εt,…, εt-q+1}, where Xt denotes the variable of interest and εt denotes its period t innovation. The optimal signal weights can be computed from a simple extension of the Kalman filter: the usual Kalman filter equations in combination with first-order conditions for the optimal signal weights. We provide several analytical results regarding those signal weights. We also prove the equivalence of several different formulations of the information flow constraint. We conclude with general equilibrium applications from Macroeconomics.
JEL Code
D83 : Microeconomics→Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty→Search, Learning, Information and Knowledge, Communication, Belief
E32 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Business Fluctuations, Cycles
21 June 2021
We review the recent literature on rational inattention, identify the main theoretical mechanisms, and explain how it helps us understand a variety of phenomena across fields of economics. The theory of rational inattention assumes that agents cannot process all available information, but they can choose which exact pieces of information to attend to. Several important results in economics have been built around imperfect information. Nowadays, many more forms of information than ever before are available due to new technologies, and yet we are able to digest little of it. Which form of imperfect information we possess and act upon is thus largely determined by which information we choose to pay attention to. These choices are driven by current economic conditions and imply behavior that features numerous empirically supported departures from standard models. Combining these insights about human limitations with the optimizing approach of neoclassical economics yields a new, generally applicable model.
JEL Code
D8 : Microeconomics→Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty