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Variational inference for large Bayesian vector autoregressions

Mauro Bernardi, Daniele Bianchi and Nicolas Bianco

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Abstract: We propose a novel variational Bayes approach to estimate high-dimensional vector autoregression (VAR) models with hierarchical shrinkage priors. Our approach does not rely on a conventional structural VAR representation of the parameter space for posterior inference. Instead, we elicit hierarchical shrinkage priors directly on the matrix of regression coefficients so that (1) the prior structure directly maps into posterior inference on the reduced-form transition matrix, and (2) posterior estimates are more robust to variables permutation. An extensive simulation study provides evidence that our approach compares favourably against existing linear and non-linear Markov Chain Monte Carlo and variational Bayes methods. We investigate both the statistical and economic value of the forecasts from our variational inference approach within the context of a mean-variance investor allocating her wealth in a large set of different industry portfolios. The results show that more accurate estimates translate into substantial statistical and economic out-of-sample gains. The results hold across different hierarchical shrinkage priors and model dimensions.

Date: 2022-02, Revised 2023-06
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ecm, nep-ets, nep-ore and nep-rmg
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