Statistical tests in vector autoregressive (VAR) models are typically based on large-sample approximations, involving the use of asymptotic distributions or bootstrap techniques. After documenting that such methods can be very misleading even with fairly large samples, especially when the number of lags or the number of equations is not small, we propose a general simulation-based technique that allows one to control completely the level of tests in parametric VAR models. In particular, we show that maximized Monte Carlo tests [Dufour (2005, Journal of Econometrics)] can provide provably exact tests for such models, whether they are stationary or integrated. Applications to order selection and causality testing are considered as special cases. The technique developed is applied to quarterly and monthly VAR models of the U.S. economy, comprising income, money, interest rates and prices, over the period 1965-1996.

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