Rational Expectations Theory

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DEFINITION of 'Rational Expectations Theory'

An economic idea that the people in the economy make choices based on their rational outlook, available information and past experiences. The theory suggests that the current expectations in the economy are equivalent to what the future state of the economy will be. This contrasts the idea that government policy influences the decisions of people in the economy.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Rational Expectations Theory'

The idea is that rational expectations of the players in an economy will partially affect what happens to the economy in the future. If a company believes that the price for its product will be higher in the future, it will stop or slow production until the price rises. Because the company weakens supply while demand stays the same, price will increase. In sum, the producer believes that the price will rise in the future, makes a rational decision to slow production and this decision partially affects what happens in the future.

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