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Changes in Business Cycles: Evidence and Explanations

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  • Christina D. Romer

Abstract

This paper shows that the volatility of annual real macroeconomic indicators for the United States and the average severity of recessions have declined only slightly between the pre-World War I and post-World War II eras. Recessions have, however, become somewhat less frequent and more uniform. It argues that the advent of macroeconomic policy after World War II can account for both the observed continuity and change. Countercyclical monetary policy and automatic stabilizers have prolonged postwar expansions and prevented severe depressions. At the same time, policy-induced booms and recessions have led to continued volatility of the postwar economy.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.13.2.23
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 13 (1999)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Pages: 23-44

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:13:y:1999:i:2:p:23-44

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.13.2.23
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  1. John B. Taylor, 1999. "A Historical Analysis of Monetary Policy Rules," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 319-348 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Christina D. Romer, 1992. "Remeasuring Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 4150, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Simon Kuznets & Elizabeth Jenks, 1961. "Capital in the American Economy: Its Formation and Financing," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn61-1, octubre-d.
  4. Matthew D. Shapiro, 1988. "The Stabilization of the U.S. Economy: Evidence from the Stock Market," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 876, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  5. Romer, Christina, 1986. "Spurious Volatility in Historical Unemployment Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(1), pages 1-37, February.
  6. Romer, Christina D, 1986. "Is the Stabilization of the Postwar Economy a Figment of the Data?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 314-34, June.
  7. Balke, Nathan S & Gordon, Robert J, 1989. "The Estimation of Prewar Gross National Product: Methodology and New Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(1), pages 38-92, February.
  8. J. Bradford DeLong & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "The Changing Cyclical Variability of Economic Activity in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, pages 679-734 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Romer, Christina D. & Romer, David H. (ed.), 1997. "Reducing Inflation," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226724843, April.
  10. Watson, Mark W, 1994. "Business-Cycle Durations and Postwar Stabilization of the U.S. Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 24-46, March.
  11. Christina D. Romer and David H. Romer., 1989. "Does Monetary Policy Matter? A New Test in the Spirit of Friedman and Schwartz," Economics Working Papers 89-107, University of California at Berkeley.
  12. Matthew D. Shapiro, 1994. "Federal Reserve Policy: Cause and Effect," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy, pages 307-334 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 1994. "What Ends Recessions?," NBER Working Papers 4765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 1994. "What Ends Recessions?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1994, Volume 9, pages 13-80 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Diebold, Francis X & Rudebusch, Glenn D, 1992. "Have Postwar Economic Fluctuations Been Stabilized?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 993-1005, September.
  15. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 1997. "Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number rome97-1, octubre-d.
  16. J. Bradford DeLong, 1998. "Fiscal Policy in the Shadow of the Great Depression," NBER Chapters, in: The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century, pages 67-86 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Sheffrin, Steven M., 1988. "Have economic fluctuations been dampened? : A look at evidence outside the United States," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 73-83, January.
  18. Romer, Christina D. & Romer, David H., 1994. "Monetary policy matters," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 75-88, August.
  19. Martin Neil Baily, 1978. "Stabilization Policy and Private Economic Behavior," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 9(1), pages 11-60.
  20. Bernanke, Ben S, 1990. "Clearing and Settlement during the Crash," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 3(1), pages 133-51.
  21. Arthur F. Burns & Wesley C. Mitchell, 1946. "Measuring Business Cycles," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number burn46-1, octubre-d.
  22. Hanes, Christopher, 1999. "Degrees of Processing and Changes in the Cyclical Behavior of Prices in the Untied States, 1869-1990," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 31(1), pages 35-53, February.
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