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Real Business Cycle Theory and the Great Depression: The Abandonment of the Abstentionist Viewpoint

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  • De Vroey Michel R

    ()
    (Department of Economics and IRES, Université catholique de Louvain)

  • Pensieroso Luca

    ()
    (Department of Economics and IRES, Université catholique de Louvain)

Abstract

Is the Great Depression amenable to real business cycle theory? In the 1970s and 1980s Lucas and Prescott took an abstentionist stance. They maintained that, because of its exceptional character, an explanation of the Great Depression was beyond the grasp of the equilibrium approach to the business cycle. However, while Lucas stuck to this view, Prescott changed his mind at the end of the 1990s, breaking his earlier self-imposed restraint. In this paper we document this evolution of opinion and produce a first assessment of real business cycle models of the Great Depression. We claim that the fact of having constructed an equilibrium model of the Great Depression constitutes a methodological breakthrough. However, as far as substance is concerned, we argue that the contribution of real business cycle literature on the Great Depression is slim, and does not gain the upper hand over the work of economic historians.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 6 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (November)
Pages: 1-26

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejmac:v:contributions.6:y:2006:i:1:n:13

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  1. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Rapping, Leonard A, 1969. "Real Wages, Employment, and Inflation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(5), pages 721-54, Sept./Oct.
  2. Michel, DE VROEY, 2005. "Involuntary Unemployment : the Elusive Quest for a Theory," Discussion Papers (ECON - Département des Sciences Economiques) 2005004, Université catholique de Louvain, Département des Sciences Economiques.
  3. Bernanke, Ben S, 1995. "The Macroeconomics of the Great Depression: A Comparative Approach," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(1), pages 1-28, February.
  4. Luca Pensieroso, 2007. "Real Business Cycle Models Of The Great Depression: A Critical Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(1), pages 110-142, 02.
  5. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2004. "New Deal Policies and the Persistence of the Great Depression: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 779-816, August.
  6. Timothy J. Kehoe & Edward C. Prescott (), 2007. "Great depressions of the twentieth century," Monograph, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, number 2007gdott.
  7. Lee E. Ohanian, 2002. "Why did productivity fall so much during the Great Depression?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr.
  8. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2002. "The U.S. and U.K. Great Depressions Through the Lens of Neoclassical Growth Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 28-32, May.
  9. Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Some skeptical observations on real business cycle theory," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 23-27.
  10. Rees, Albert, 1970. "On Equilibrium in Labor Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(2), pages 306-10, March-Apr.
  11. Lee Ohanian, 2000. "EconomicDynamics Interviews Lee Ohanian on the Great Depression," EconomicDynamics Newsletter, Review of Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(2), April.
  12. Yngve Abrahamsen & Roland Aeppli & Erdal Atukeren & Michael Graff & Christian Müller & Bernd Ships, 2005. "The Swiss Disease: Facts and Artefacts, A Reply to Kehoe and Prescott," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(3), pages 749-758, July.
  13. Romer, Christina D., 1992. "What Ended the Great Depression?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(04), pages 757-784, December.
  14. Brian Snowdon & Howard Vane, 1998. "Transforming macroeconomics: an interview with Robert E. Lucas Jr," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(1), pages 115-146.
  15. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2000. "Re-examining the contributions of money and banking shocks to the U.S. Great Depression," Staff Report 270, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  16. repec:cup:macdyn:v:3:y:1999:i:2:p:278-91 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 1999. "The Great Depression in the United States from a neoclassical perspective," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 2-24.
  18. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Rapping, Leonard A, 1972. "Unemployment in the Great Depression: Is There a Full Explanation?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(1), pages 186-91, Jan.-Feb..
  19. Edward C. Prescott, 1999. "Some observations on the Great Depression," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 25-29.
  20. Timothy Kehoe & Edward Prescott, 2002. "Data Appendix to Great Depressions of the Twentieth Century," Technical Appendices kehoe02, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  21. Temin, Peter & Wigmore, Barrie A., 1990. "The end of one big deflation," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 483-502, October.
  22. Romer, Christina D, 1990. "The Great Crash and the Onset of the Great Depression," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(3), pages 597-624, August.
  23. Barry Eichengreen & Peter Temin, 1997. "The Gold Standard and the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 6060, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. McCallum, Bennett T., 1999. "An Interview With Robert E. Lucas, Jr," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 278-291, June.
  25. Edward C. Prescott, 1986. "Response to a skeptic," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 28-33.
  26. Edward C. Prescott, 1983. ""Can the cycle be reconciled with a consistent theory of expectations?" - or a progress report on business cycle theory," Working Papers 239, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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Cited by:
  1. Luca Pensieroso, 2011. "The Great Depression in Belgium from a Neoclassical Perspective," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(2), pages 389-402, Arpil.
  2. Brian Snowdon, 2007. "The New Classical Counter-Revolution: False Path or Illuminating Complement?," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 541-562, Fall.
  3. Franck Portier, 2008. "Interprétation d’épisodes historiques à l’aide de modèles dynamiques stochastiques d’équilibre général," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 185(4), pages 33-46.
  4. Eduardo Sanchez Astorino & Mauro Rodrigues Junior, 2014. "The Great Depression In Brazil," Anais do XL Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 40th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 035, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
  5. Luca PENSIEROSO, 2010. "The Great Depression in Belgium: an Open-Economy Analysis," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2010023, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  6. Timothy J. Kehoe & Edward C. Prescott, 2008. "Using the general equilibrium growth model to study great depressions: a reply to Temin," Staff Report 418, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

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