Abstract

Using oil futures, we examine expectation formation and how it alters the macroeconomic transmission of shocks. Our empirical framework, where investors learn about the persistence of oil-price movements, successfully replicates the fluctuations in oil-price futures since the late 1990s. By embedding this learning mechanism in an estimated model, we document that an increase in the persistence of TFP-driven fluctuations in oil demand largely accounts for investors’ perceptions that oil-price movements became increasingly permanent during the 2000s. Learning alters the macroeconomic impact of shocks, making the responses time-dependent and conditional on perceptions of shocks’ likely persistence.

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