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The U.S. Business Cycle, 1867-1995: Dynamic Factor Analysis vs. Reconstructed National Accounts

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  • Albrecht Ritschl
  • Samad Sarferaz
  • Martin Uebele

Abstract

This paper presents insights on U.S. business cycle volatility since 1867 de- rived from diffusion indices. We employ a Bayesian dynamic factor model to obtain aggregate and sectoral economic activity indices. We find a remarkable increase in volatility across World War I, which is reversed after World War II. While we can generate evidence of postwar moderation relative to pre-1914, this evidence is not robust to structural change, implemented by time-varying factor loadings. We do find evidence of moderation in the nominal series, however, and reproduce the standard result of moderation since the 1980s. Our estimates broadly confirm the NBER historical business cycle chronology as well the National Income and Product Accounts, except for World War II where they support alternative estimates of Kuznets (1952).

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany in its series SFB 649 Discussion Papers with number SFB649DP2008-066.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hum:wpaper:sfb649dp2008-066

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Keywords: U.S. business cycle; volatility; dynamic factor analysis;

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  1. Luca Gambetti & Jordi Gal�, 2009. "On the Sources of the Great Moderation," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 26-57, January.
  2. Joseph H. Davis & Christopher Hanes & Paul W. Rhode, 2009. "Harvests and Business Cycles in Nineteenth-Century America," NBER Working Papers 14686, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Giannone, Domenico & Lenza, Michele & Reichlin, Lucrezia, 2007. "Explaining The Great Moderation: It Is Not The Shocks," CEPR Discussion Papers 6600, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. John W. Kendrick, 1961. "Productivity Trends in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend61-1, May.
  5. Simon Kuznets & Lillian Epstein & Elizabeth Jenks, 1946. "National Income and Its Composition, 1919-1938, Volume II," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn41-3, May.
  6. Robert J. Gordon, 1986. "The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gord86-1, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Matthias Morys & Martin Ivanov, 2009. "Common factors in South-East Europe’s business cycles 1899 - 1989," SEEMHN papers 1, National Bank of Serbia.
  2. Matthias Morys & Martin Ivanov, 2013. "The emergence of a European region: Business cycles in South-East Europe from political independence to World War II," Centre for Historical Economics and Related Research at York (CHERRY) Discussion Papers 13/01, CHERRY, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.

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