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Detecting recessions in the Great Moderation: a real-time analysis

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  • Troy Davig

Abstract

The nature of the business cycle, particularly in the United States, has changed dramatically over the past several decades. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the U.S. economy often whipsawed up and down. Since then, real economic activity stabilized considerably, entering a period economists call the “Great Moderation.” With the ups and downs of the economy becoming less dramatic, it has become harder to determine in real-time when the economy dips into recession. ; Economists have a variety of methods to determine when the economy is entering a recession. These methods range from directly analyzing a broad spectrum of data to the formal use of recession prediction models. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) uses the first approach, relying on several data series to make a determination of when the economy enters or exits a recession. Their decisions are intended to be accurate, not timely. More formal recession prediction models are designed to send a timely signal, but often do not take account of how the Great Moderation has altered the business cycle. ; Davig uses a framework that efficiently uses a large set of data in a “business cycle tracking” model. The model accounts for shifts in overall economic volatility – to capture the Great Moderation – and sends a signal when the economy is shifting between periods of low and high economic activity. The model can be used in different ways to extract a signal regarding whether the economy is likely heading for an NBER recession.

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

Volume (Year): (2008)
Issue (Month): Q IV ()
Pages: 5-33

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedker:y:2008:i:qiv:p:5-33:n:v.93no.4

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  1. Boivin, Jean & Giannoni, Marc, 2006. "Has Monetary Policy Become More Effective?," CEPR Discussion Papers 5463, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Bai, Jushan & Wang, Peng, 2011. "Conditional Markov chain and its application in economic time series analysis," MPRA Paper 33369, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Alejandro Justiniano & Northwestern University, 2006. "The Time Varying Volatility of Macroeconomic Fluctuations," Computing in Economics and Finance 2006 219, Society for Computational Economics.
  4. Margaret McConnell & Gabriel Perez Quiros, 2000. "Output fluctuations in the United States: what has changed since the early 1980s?," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Mar.
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  7. Marcelle Chauvet & James D. Hamilton, 2005. "Dating Business Cycle Turning Points," NBER Working Papers 11422, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Olivier Blanchard & John Simon, 2001. "The Long and Large Decline in U.S. Output Volatility," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(1), pages 135-174.
  9. Charles L. Evans & Chin Te Liu & Genevieve Pham-Kanter, 2002. "The 2001 recession and the Chicago Fed National Index: identifying business cycle turning points," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q III, pages 26-43.
  10. Alejandro Justiniano & Giorgio E. Primiceri, 2006. "The Time Varying Volatility of Macroeconomic Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 12022, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Chad R. Wilkerson, 2009. "Recession and recovery across the nation: lessons from history," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q II, pages 5-24.

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