Why would "disequilibrium dynamics" be important? I can think of several reasons.
Reason 1: The equilibrium may shift at about the same speed that convergence happens. If the economy is trying to hit a moving target, chaos will result. See this paper by Andrew Lo for a semi-technical explanation of why this true. (In math-speak, this happens when the rate of convergence, k, may be of the same order as the parameters governing the time-scale of the shock process.)
Reason 2: The equilibrium may not be stable. See this blog post by Jonathan Schlefer (whosebook I just ordered off of Amazon):In 1960 Herbert Scarf of Yale showed that [even the most ideal kind of] economy can cycle unstably. The picture steadily darkened. Seminal papers in the 1970s, one authored by [General Equilibrium inventor] Debreu, eliminated "any last forlorn hope," as the MIT theorist Franklin Fisher says, of proving that markets would move an economy toward equilibrium. Frank Hahn, a prominent Cambridge University theorist, sums up the matter: "We have no good reason to suppose that there are forces which lead the economy to equilibrium."In other words, the smooth convergence equation that Lucas wrote down may simply not be true.
Reason 3 (the biggie): There may be multiple equilibria. You rarely see famous and influential DSGE papers with multiple equilibria, and when you do see them, there are usually only two equilibria. But I know of absolutely no reason why the real economy should have a unique equilibrium. And I know of absolutely no reason why the number of equilibrium in the economy should be small! But there seems to be a huge publication bias in favor of smaller number of equilibria (Roger Farmer's efforts notwithstanding). This annoys me.
Read the whole thing at NoahpinionDSGE vs. Weather Forecasting
by Noah Smith
(ht Mark Thoma)
(ht Mark Thoma)