Large order-invariant Bayesian VARs with stochastic volatility

Chan, Joshua C. C. and Koop, Gary and Yu, Xuewen (2024) Large order-invariant Bayesian VARs with stochastic volatility. Journal of Business and Economic Statistics, 42 (2). pp. 825-837. ISSN 0735-0015 (

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Many popular specifications for Vector Autoregressions (VARs) with multivariate stochastic volatility are not invariant to the way the variables are ordered due to the use of a lower triangular parameterization of the error covariance matrix. We show that the order invariance problem in existing approaches is likely to become more serious in large VARs. We propose the use of a specification which avoids the use of this lower triangular parameterization. We show that the presence of multivariate stochastic volatility allows for identification of the proposed model and prove that it is invariant to ordering. We develop a Markov Chain Monte Carlo algorithm which allows for Bayesian estimation and prediction. In exercises involving artificial and real macroeconomic data, we demonstrate that the choice of variable ordering can have non-negligible effects on empirical results when using the non-order invariant approach. In a macroeconomic forecasting exercise involving VARs with 20 variables we find that our order-invariant approach leads to the best forecasts and that some choices of variable ordering can lead to poor forecasts using a conventional, non-order invariant, approach.