2019/01 LEM Working Paper Series

More is Different ... and Complex! The Case for Agent-Based Macroeconomics

Giovanni Dosi and Andrea Roventini
Macroeconomics, Economic Policy, Keynesian Theory, New Neoclassical Synthesis, New Keynesian Models, DSGE Models, Agent-Based Evolutionary Models, Complexity Theory, Great Recession, Crisis.

  JEL Classifications
B41, B50, E32, E52
This work nests the Agent-Based macroeconomic perspective into the earlier history of macroeconomics. We discuss how the discipline in the 70’s took a perverse path relying on models grounded on fictitious rational representative agent in order to try to pathetically circumvent aggregation and coordination problems. The Great Recession was a natural experiment for macroeconomics, showing the inadequacy of the predominant theoretical framework grounded on DSGE models. After discussing the pathological fallacies of the DSGE-based approach, we claim that macroeconomics should consider the economy as a complex evolving system, i.e. as an ecology populated by heterogenous agents, whose far-from-equilibrium interactions continuously change the structure of the system. This in turn implies that more is different: macroeconomics cannot be shrink to representative-agent micro, but agents’ complex interactions lead to emergence of new phenomena and hierarchical structure at the macro level. This is what is taken into account by agent-based models, which provide a novel way to model complex economies from the bottom-up, with sound empirically-based micro-foundations. We present the foundations of Agent-Based macroeconomics and we discuss how the contributions of this special issue push its frontier forward. Finally, we conclude by discussing the ways ahead for the fully acknowledgement of agent-based models as the standard way of theorizing in macroeconomics.
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