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Learning And The Great Moderation

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  • James Bullard
  • Aarti Singh

Abstract

We study a stylized theory of the volatility reduction in the U.S. after 1984—the Great Moderation—which attributes part of the stabilization to less volatile shocks and another part to more difficult inference on the part of Bayesian households attempting to learn the latent state of the economy. We use a standard equilibrium business cycle model with technology following an unobserved regime-switching process. After 1984, according to Kim and Nelson (1999a), the variance of U.S. macroeconomic aggregates declined because boom and recession regimes moved closer together, keeping conditional variance unchanged. In our model this makes the signal extraction problem more difficult for Bayesian households, and in response they moderate their behavior, reinforcing the effect of the less volatile stochastic technology and contributing an extra measure of moderation to the economy. We construct example economies in which this learning effect accounts for about 30 percent of a volatility reduction of the magnitude observed in the postwar U.S. data.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association in its journal International Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 53 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (05)
Pages: 375-397

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Handle: RePEc:wly:iecrev:v:53:y:2012:i:2:p:375-397

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References

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  1. Van Nieuwerburgh, Stijn & Veldkamp, Laura, 2006. "Learning asymmetries in real business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(4), pages 753-772, May.
  2. Andres Arias & Gary Hansen & Lee Ohanian, 2007. "Why have business cycle fluctuations become less volatile?," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 43-58, July.
  3. 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.
  4. S. B. Aruoba & Jesús Fernández-Villaverde & Juan F. Rubio-Ramirez, 2005. "Comparing Solution Methods for Dynamic Equilibrium Economies," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000855, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. David Andolfatto & Paul Gomme, 2003. "Monetary Policy Regimes and Beliefs," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(1), pages 1-30, February.
  6. Fabio Milani, 2007. "Learning and Time-Varying Macroeconomic Volatility," Working Papers 070802, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
  7. Giorgio Primiceri & Alejandro Justiniano, 2006. "The Time Varying Volatility of Macroeconomic Fluctuations," 2006 Meeting Papers 353, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Jesús Fernández-Villaverde & Juan F. Rubio-Ramirez, 2006. "Estimating Macroeconomic Models: A Likelihood Approach," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000849, UCLA Department of Economics.
  9. Hamilton, James D, 1989. "A New Approach to the Economic Analysis of Nonstationary Time Series and the Business Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 357-84, March.
  10. Michael T. Owyang & Jeremy M. Piger & Howard J. Wall, 2007. "A state-level analysis of the Great Moderation," Working Papers 2007-003, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  11. Christopher A. Sims & Tao Zha, 2005. "Were There Regime Switches in U.S. Monetary Policy?," Working Papers 92, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  12. Marco Cagetti & Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas Sargent & Noah Williams, 2002. "Robustness and Pricing with Uncertain Growth," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 15(2), pages 363-404, March.
  13. Margaret M. McConnell & Gabriel Perez Quiros, 1997. "Output fluctuations in the United States: what has changed since the early 1980s?," Research Paper 9735, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  14. Chang-Jin Kim & Charles Nelson & Jeremy M. Piger, 2003. "The less volatile U.S. economy: a Bayesian investigation of timing, breadth, and potential explanations," Working Papers 2001-016, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  15. Giorgio E. Primiceri, 2005. "Time Varying Structural Vector Autoregressions and Monetary Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(3), pages 821-852.
  16. James B. Bullard & John Duffy, 2004. "Learning and structural change in macroeconomic data," Working Papers 2004-016, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
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Cited by:
  1. Richard Harrison & George Kapetanios & Alasdair Scott & Jana Eklund, 2008. "Breaks in DSGE models," 2008 Meeting Papers 657, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Murray, James, 2011. "Learning and judgment shocks in U.S. business cycles," MPRA Paper 29257, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. James B. Bullard, 2009. "Three funerals and a wedding," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 1-12.

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