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The less volatile U.S. economy: a Bayesian investigation of timing, breadth, and potential explanations

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  • Chang-Jin Kim
  • Charles Nelson
  • Jeremy Piger

Abstract

Using Bayesian tests for a structural break at an unknown break date, we search for a volatility reduction within the post-war sample for the growth rates of U.S. aggregate and disaggregate real GDP. We find that the growth rate of aggregate real GDP has been less volatile since the early 1980's, and that this volatility reduction is concentrated in the cyclical component of real GDP. The growth rates of many of the broad production sectors of real GDP display similar reductions in volatility, suggesting the aggregate volatility reduction does not have a narrow source. We also find a large volatility reduction in aggregate final sales mirroring that in aggregate real GDP. We contrast this evidence to an existing literature documenting an aggregate volatility reduction that is shared by only one narrow sub-component, the production of durable goods, and is not present in final sales. In addition to the volatility reduction in real GDP, we document structural breaks in the volatility and persistence of inflation and interest rates occurring over a similar time frame as the volatility reduction in real GDP.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 707.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:707

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Keywords: Econometric models ; Business cycles;

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  1. Christina D. Romer, 1999. "Changes in Business Cycles: Evidence and Explanations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 23-44, Spring.
  2. Francis X. Diebold & Celia Chen, 1993. "Testing structural stability with endogenous break point: a size comparison of analytic and bootstrap procedures," Working Papers 93-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  3. Donald W.K. Andrews & Werner Ploberger, 1992. "Optimal Tests When a Nuisance Parameter Is Present Only Under the Alternative," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1015, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  4. M. V. Cacdac Warnock & Francis E. Warnock, 2000. "The declining volatility of U.S. employment: was Arthur Burns right?," International Finance Discussion Papers 677, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Andrews, Donald W K, 1993. "Tests for Parameter Instability and Structural Change with Unknown Change Point," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(4), pages 821-56, July.
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  7. Chauvet, Marcelle & Potter, Simon, 2001. "Recent Changes in the US Business Cycle," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 69(5), pages 481-508, Special I.
  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. Andrew Levin & Volker Wieland & John C. Williams, 1998. "Robustness of simple monetary policy rules under model uncertainty," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-45, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. Campbell, John & Perron, Pierre, 1991. "Pitfalls and Opportunities: What Macroeconomists Should Know about Unit Roots," Scholarly Articles 3374863, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  12. Koop, Gary & Potter, Simon M., 1998. "Bayes factors and nonlinearity: Evidence from economic time series1," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 251-281, November.
  13. King, Robert G. & Plosser, Charles I. & Rebelo, Sergio T., 1988. "Production, growth and business cycles : II. New directions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 309-341.
  14. Robert G. King & Charles I. Plosser & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1991. "Stochastic trends and economic fluctuations," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 91-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  15. Cochrane, John H, 1994. "Permanent and Transitory Components of GNP and Stock Prices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(1), pages 241-65, February.
  16. Chib, Siddhartha, 1998. "Estimation and comparison of multiple change-point models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 221-241, June.
  17. Bai, Jushan & Lumsdaine, Robin L & Stock, James H, 1998. "Testing for and Dating Common Breaks in Multivariate Time Series," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(3), pages 395-432, July.
  18. Shaghil Ahmed & Andrew Levin & Beth Anne Wilson, 2002. "Recent U.S. macroeconomic stability: good policies, good practices or good luck?," International Finance Discussion Papers 730, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  19. Fama, Eugene F., 1992. "Transitory variation in investment and output," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 467-480, December.
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