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On business cycles and countercyclical policies

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  • Marco A. Espinosa-Vega
  • Jang-Ting Guo

Abstract

Since the third quarter of 2000, the U.S. economy began to experience a slowdown in its rate of growth. This slowdown serves as a reminder that the business cycle is still alive and raises the following questions: What do we know about the driving forces behind the business cycle? What should policymakers do in the face of economic fluctuations? ; The authors examine two explanations for business cycles that are well-known in academic circles: the animal spirits theory and the real business cycle theory. The former is closely connected with the Keynesian economic tradition and identifies market participants' mood swings as the key source of economic fluctuations. The second explanation is rooted in the classical economic tradition and views productivity shocks as the driving force behind economic fluctuations. The article then looks at what these theories suggest about countercyclical policies, which try to eliminate business cycle fluctuations or insulate market participants from their effects. The authors conclude that neither theory makes an unambiguous case supporting countercyclical policies. ; This conclusion may come as a surprise to government and business economists who have an ingrained belief in the benefits of such policies. It is important to remember, however, that attempts to understand business cycles and the effects and desirability of policies that may (or may not) moderate them are still at a very early stage.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its journal Economic Review.

Volume (Year): (2001)
Issue (Month): Q4 ()
Pages: 1-11

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedaer:y:2001:i:q4:p:1-11:n:v.86no.4

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Related research

Keywords: Business cycles ; Monetary policy ; Keynesian economics;

References

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  1. Lawrence J. Christiano & Sharon G. Harrison, 1996. "Chaos, Sunspots, and Automatic Stabilizers," NBER Working Papers 5703, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Mankiw, N.G., 1991. "The Reincarnation of Keynesian Economoics," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1572, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Laurence Ball & David Romer, 1990. "Real Rigidities and the Non-Neutrality of Money," NBER Working Papers 2476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  5. Jang-Ting Guo & Kevin J. Lansing, 1997. "Indeterminacy and stabilization policy," Working Paper 9708, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  6. Mankiw, N Gregory, 1985. "Small Menu Costs and Large Business Cycles: A Macroeconomic Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(2), pages 529-38, May.
  7. King, Robert G. & Rebelo, Sergio T., 1999. "Resuscitating real business cycles," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 14, pages 927-1007 Elsevier.
  8. Long, John B, Jr & Plosser, Charles I, 1983. "Real Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 39-69, February.
  9. Caballero, Ricardo J. & Lyons, Richard K., 1992. "External effects in U.S. procyclical productivity," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 209-225, April.
  10. Farmer Roger E. A. & Guo Jang-Ting, 1994. "Real Business Cycles and the Animal Spirits Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 42-72, June.
  11. Satyajit Chatterjee, 2000. "From cycles to shocks: progress in business-cycle theory," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Mar, pages 27-37.
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Cited by:
  1. Noam, Eli M., 2006. "Fundamental instability: Why telecom is becoming a cyclical and oligopolistic industry," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 272-284, September.

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