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Have postwar economic fluctuations been stabilized?

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  • Francis X. Diebold
  • Glenn D. Rudebusch

Abstract

Previous investigations of whether the volatility of the U.S. economy diminished after World War II have been inconclusive because of questionable prewar macroeconomic aggregates. We examine, more broadly, the hypothesis of the stabilization of the postwar economy by focusing on the duration of business cycles, rather than their amplitude; in the process, we avoid the debate about the quality of prewar aggregates. Using distribution-free statistics, we find clear evidence of postwar duration stabilization in terms of a shift toward longer expansions and shorter contractions. Moreover, we find no shift in whole-cycle durations, which suggests a reallocation of the business cycle away from contraction and toward expansion.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section with number 116.

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Date of creation: 1991
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgwe:116

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Keywords: Business cycles;

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  1. Diebold, Francis X & Rudebusch, Glenn D, 1990. "A Nonparametric Investigation of Duration Dependence in the American Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 596-616, June.
  2. Robert J. Gordon, 1980. "Postwar Macroeconomics: The Evolution of Events and Ideas," NBER Working Papers 0459, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. J. Bradford DeLong & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "The Changing Cyclical Variability of Economic Activity in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, pages 679-734 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Bruce D. Meyer, 1988. "Unemployment Insurance And Unemployment Spells," NBER Working Papers 2546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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