James passed me this interesting paper on the stability of multivariate systems where agents use adaptive behavior via email. I did a quick read...heavy on the maths (although I think it is mostly just multivariate calculus and linear algebra). They also went all out on the notation...I haven't seen some of those symbols outside of formal advanced maths texts. It would take quite a bit of work for me to fully grasp the paper as I would need to follow through on the calculations etc. Although plowing through the maths would be a good refresher...

I think his (i.e., James') characterization of the paper in the email is pretty much on target. They seem to formally develop general conditions under which multivariate systems with adaptive expectations are not stable. They find that for the most part, such systems are not stable. And they stress that their results provide further evidence that equilibrium stability results from models where homogeneous agents are using adaptive behavior (or that are otherwise one-dimensional) should not be generalized to high dimensional or heterogeneous agent models where agents are using adaptive behavior. The study of multivariate (and heterogeneous agent) systems, would seem to be a study in disequilibrium behavior...

Their results support the other research on multivariate and complex adaptive systems that I have read. From my reading of the literature, multivariate systems (including heterogeneous agent systems), generally speaking, are not stable. At least in the sense that it is rare that such complex systems settle down to some static equilibrium. On the other hand many multivariate and complex adaptive systems do exhibit endogenous self-organizing behavior (which I like to think of as a type of stable disequilibrium behavior...although this may not be the best choice of words to capture the phenomenon), punctuated equilibrium dynamics, etc.

The more I learn about economics, the more I am becoming convinced that economics is not an equilibrium science. Economics is fundamentally a science of disequilibrium behavior. I will go out on a limb here and say that perhaps one of the reasons that economics, particularly macroeconomics, has struggled so much is because we as economists are trying to force our (for the most part) linear equilibrium models to describe a non-linear disequilibrium world...

There is also the (I'd like to think small) possibility that I am cocooned in a world of complex adaptive systems, and am suffering from a massive case of confirmation bias...

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## Wednesday, August 18, 2010

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