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What caused the Great Moderation? : some cross-country evidence

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  • Peter M. Summers

Abstract

Over the last 20 years or so, the volatility of aggregate economic activity has fallen dramatically in most of the industrialized world. The timing and nature of the decline vary across countries, but the phenomenon has been so widespread and persistent that it has earned the label: “the Great Moderation.” A growing body of research has focused on the Great Moderation and its possible explanations, especially as it applies to the U.S. experience. The literature documents the international dimension of this volatility reduction, but so far little is known about the possible causes from a cross-country perspective. Summers shows why the Great Moderation has indeed been a common feature of much of the industrialized world. Specifically, he focuses on the reduction in the volatility of GDP growth that occurred in the G-7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Australia. He uses international evidence to evaluate the merits of three likely explanations. He concludes that, from an international perspective, good luck in the form of smaller energy price shocks is not a compelling explanation for widespread moderation of GDP growth volatility. Rather, the Great Moderation is more likely due to better monetary policy outcomes and improved inventory management techniques.

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Bibliographic Info

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

Volume (Year): (2005)
Issue (Month): Q III ()
Pages: 5-32

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedker:y:2005:i:qiii:p:5-32:n:v.90no.3

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Keywords: Gross domestic product ; Group of Seven countries ; Monetary policy;

References

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  1. Lawrence J. Christiano & Terry J. Fitzgerald, 1999. "The Band Pass Filter," NBER Working Papers 7257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Lawrence J. Christiano & Terry J. Fitzgerald, 2003. "The Band Pass Filter," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(2), pages 435-465, 05.
  2. Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2003. "Globalization and global disinflation," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 77-112.
  3. D van Dijk & D R Osborn & M Sensier, 2002. "Changes in variability of the business cycle in the G7 countries," The School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 0204, Economics, The University of Manchester.
  4. Thomas F. Siems, 2005. "Supply chain management: the science of better, faster, cheaper," Southwest Economy, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue Mar, pages 1, 7-12.
  5. Terence C. Mills & Ping Wang, 2003. "Have output growth rates stabilised? evidence from the g-7 economies," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 50(3), pages 232-246, 08.
  6. Marianne Baxter & Robert G. King, 1995. "Measuring Business Cycles Approximate Band-Pass Filters for Economic Time Series," NBER Working Papers 5022, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2003. "Understanding Changes in International Business Cycle Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 9859, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. James D. Hamilton, 2000. "What is an Oil Shock?," NBER Working Papers 7755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Clarida, Richard & Galí, Jordi & Gertler, Mark, 1998. "Monetary Policy Rules and Macroeconomic Stability: Evidence and Some Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers 1908, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. James A. Kahn & Margaret M. McConnell & Gabriel Perez-Quiros, 2002. "On the causes of the increased stability of the U.S. economy," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue May, pages 183-202.
  11. Stephen G. Cecchetti & Alfonso Flores-Lagunes & Stefan Krause, 2006. "Has Monetary Policy become more Efficient? a Cross-Country Analysis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(511), pages 408-433, 04.
  12. Allan H. Meltzer, 2005. "Origins of the Great Inflation," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 145-176.
  13. Chang-Jin Kim & Charles R. Nelson, 1999. "Has The U.S. Economy Become More Stable? A Bayesian Approach Based On A Markov-Switching Model Of The Business Cycle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 608-616, November.
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