Program Director:
Lars Peter Hansen, University of Chicago Department of Economics, Statistics and the Booth School of Business

One of my great teachers, Wesley C. Mitchell, impressed on me the basic reason why scholars have every incentive to pursue a value-free science, whatever their values and however strongly they may wish to spread and promote them. In order to recommend a course of action to achieve an objective, we must first know whether that course of action will in fact promote the objective. Positive scientific knowledge that enables us to predict the consequences of a possible course of action is clearly a prerequisite for the normative judgment whether that course of action is desirable. The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions, precisely because of the neglect of this rather obvious point. This point is particularly important in economics. ― Milton Friedman, Nobel Lecture, Journal of Political Economy [read more on Friedman’s views and contributions to economic sciences here.]

This research program will expand our understanding of how financial markets affect the economy as a whole and, conversely, how the macroeconomy influences financial markets. It will do so by bringing together a community of elite scholars with common ambitions to tackle these important challenges. This program operates under the auspices of the Becker Friedman Institute with generous funding support from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Through sponsored research projects, conferences, and interactions with visiting scholars, this program focuses on these fundamental questions:

  • How do we best capture the interplay between monetary and fiscal policy?
  • How do we construct models and measurements that will better support the prudent oversight of system-wide risks to the financial system?
  • How do we provide a more coherent assessment of the financial obligations of government? 
  • How does the credit cycle influence the business cycle, and how does the business cycle affect the credit cycle?
  • What broader lessons can we extract from country-specific monetary and fiscal histories?

For general program inquiries, please contact Diana Petrova, MFR Program Executive Director, at

MFR Program Advisory Committee

The Macro Finance Research Program (MFR) Advisory Committee oversees the research agenda of the program. Members of the committee are prominent experts in macroeconomics and finance with particular interests in exploring linkages between these fields. They have made important substantive research contributions and are well positioned to help the research agenda for the program.

  • Lars Peter Hansen, Professor, University of Chicago Departments of Economics, Statistics and the Booth School of Business, Committee Chair
  • Fernando Alvarez, Professor, University of Chicago Department of Economics
  • John Cochrane, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, and BFI Distinguished Research Fellow
  • Douglas Diamond, Professor, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Wenxin Du, Professor, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Zhiguo He, Professor, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • John Heaton, Professor, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Anil Kashyap, Professor, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Ralph Koijen, Professor, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Yueran Ma, Assistant Professor of Finance, University of Booth School of Business
  • Thomas Sargent, Professor, New York University Department of Economics and BFI Distinguished Research Fellow
  • Amir Sufi, Professor, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Harald Uhlig, Professor, University of Chicago Department of Economics

Upcoming Conferences and Events

  • MFR Summer Session for Young Scholars – August 1-4, 2022 at the University of Chicago organized by MFR Program Advisory Committee Members
  • Behavioral Implications of Uncertainty in Macroeconomics Capstone Conference – September 22-23, 2022 at the University of Chicago
  • MFR-NSF Workshop – October 20, 2022 at the Gleacher Center organized by Ralph Koijen
  • Theory and Empirics Conference – December 9-10, 2022 at the University of Chicago organized by  Zhiguo He, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Ron Kaniel, University of Rochester, and Lars Peter Hansen, University of Chicago – co-sponsored by the Fama-Miller Center

Featured COVID-19 Research

*MFR Program Advisory Committee Member

Previous MFR Conferences and Events

MFR Suite

The MFR Suite provides a collection of Python modules for conducting analysis in macro-finance. In particular, it provides the model solution to the framework developed in Hansen, Khorrami, and Tourre (2018). In addition, it provides two independent modules to compute stationary density and shock elasticities (see Term Structure of Uncertainty in the Macroeconomy and Shock Elasticities and Impulse Responses).


To report issues or suggest improvements for the MFR Suite team, submit feedback here.

We would like to thank project associate Joseph Huang for developing the MFR Suite and MFR research professional Han Xu for launching its second version in June of 2020. We would like to gratefully acknowledge the Macro Financial Modeling project through the generous financial support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Fidelity Investments and to thank Amy Boonstra, former MFM Executive Director, for her unconditional support. For their feedback, we thank Yu-Ting Chiang (University of Chicago), Jian Li (University of Chicago), Simon Scheidegger (HEC Lausanne), Elisabeth Proehl (University of Amsterdam), and conference participants at the 2nd MMCN, PASC18, University of Zurich, Northwestern University, and participants at the Economic Dynamics Working Group at the University of Chicago. We also would like to thank the Research Computing Center at the University of Chicago (RCC) for their guidance on high performance computing, in particular Peter Carbonetto and Hossein Pourreza. Read more about the MFR Collaboration with the RCC.

MFR Collaboration with the RCC

Monetary and Fiscal History of Latin America Project

Project Directors:
Juan Pablo Nicolini, Senior Research Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Timothy J. Kehoe, Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Fernando Alvarez, University of Chicago, Department of Economics
Thomas J. Sargent, NYU, Department of Economics

Latin American economies have endured a wide variety of experiences in terms of the design, the implementation and the consequences of monetary and fiscal policies. While many country-specific narratives exist, this research project is assembling comprehensive historical time series for eleven countries to provide more complete and comprehensive accounts for each country and to facilitate cross-country comparisons. This project, as part of the MFR, has engaged scholars and experienced policy makers to provide accurate assessments for each country’s fiscal history. The lessons gleaned from analyzing these historical data will offer valuable guidance for policy makers, international financial institutions, and the academic community.

Visit the project website here.

Behavioral Implications of Uncertainty in Macroeconomics Project (BUMP)

Project Director: Thomas J. Sargent, NYU, Department of Economics

How people conceive of and respond to uncertainty is a critical behavioral ingredient of dynamic economic models. In many macroeconomic models today, uncertainty has only modest impacts. This is because these models embrace the assumption of rational expectations that says that people know the probabilities implied by the model. The rational expectations assumption is a valuable tool for evaluating many problems, but is dubious for analyzing many of the important situations we face today when concerns about temperatures, other physical determinants of long-term growth prospects, and demographic drivers of possible “secular stagnation” are on many peoples’ minds. Therefore, we propose to expand the usual rational expectations approach in macroeconomics by attributing uncertainty about the probabilities that people in our models are facing. We see this as having vital implications for formulating sensible economic policies. We push beyond the conventional risk-based, rational expectations analyses by building on probe more general paradigms coming from decision theory and modern mathematical control theory. Furthermore, we complement and extend other behavioral research that emphasizes psychological mechanisms. We accomplish this by using statistical theory to formalize how environmental complexities of the model framework can influence individual behaviors.

Click here to read a research brief summarizing the aim of the BUMP project.

Financing Investment in China Project (MFR-China)

Project Director: Zhiguo He, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

The instruments of finance are evolving quickly in China. China’s interbank market has experienced rapid growth and has turned the nation into the third largest economy in the world behind the United States and Japan. Participants in this market include commercial banks, insurance companies, mutual funds, and other qualified institutions. This project formally named “Chinese Financial Markets (CFM)” as part of the MFR, will provide a comprehensive study of the interbank market in China including its overall stability, its consequences for investment and its support for new productive ventures.

The Macro Finance Research Program (MFR-China) will explore financial market evolution, banking reform, debt, and reform of state-owned enterprises. Researchers will investigate the many questions facing China’s increasingly dynamic financial markets—from privacy issues to credit worthiness and systemic risk—including the emerging challenges facing China’s regulators. This research will provide important insight for Chinese policymakers, as well as build resources for future research.

Read more about MFR-China here.

University of Chicago Joint Program in Financial Economics

This Macro Financial Research Program will seek to encourage the participation of interested and promising advanced graduate student researchers. One vehicle for doing this is the Joint Program in Financial Economics at the University of Chicago. This program is a collaboration between the Economics department and the Booth School of Business.

The aim of this program is to exploit the strengths of both sponsors in training PhD students interested in financial economics. Core economics training is valuable for students seeking to do research in financial economics, and advances in financial economics have important spillovers to other areas of economics.

Every year, the program holds a number of conferences, workshops and events designed to expose students to frontier research in financial economics and to encourage research collaborations aimed at supporting prudent policy-making.

Housing, Household Debt, and the Macroeconomy

Project Director: Amir Sufi, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Housing costs are the largest expense for most households and are therefore a significant portion of consumption nationally. Likewise, mortgages account for not just the lion’s share of household debt but also a substantial portion of credit markets. Surprisingly, however, the mechanisms by which mortgage and housing market disturbances ripple through the economy are not well understood. The University of Chicago is home to a strong and growing group of experts in this area. The MFR is supporting their work and fostering a collaborative community of researchers at Chicago Booth, Northwestern University, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Financial Market Oversight and Regulation

Project Directors:
Douglas Diamond, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Amit Seru, Stanford University

Governments responded to the financial crisis by creating new agencies to monitor financial risk and regulations aimed at preventing future bank and credit crises. How well have these efforts worked? The institute has sponsored conference organized by Douglas Diamond and Amit Seru and supported research that assesses the costs and benefits of this regulation. Collectively, these three projects will help add to our understanding of what we’ve experienced, respond to future market disruptions, and potentially add to our capabilities to predict where crises may arise.