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Intertemporal Substitution and the Business Cycle

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  • Robert J. Barro

Abstract

This paper summarizes the theoretical role of intertemporal substitution variables in the "new classical macroeconomics." An important implication is that positive monetary shocks tend to raise expected real returns that are calculated from the usual partial information set, but tend to lower realized real returns. After reviewing previous empirical findings in the area, the study reports new results on the behavior of returns on the New York Stock Exchange and on Treasury Bills. The analysis isolates realized real rate of return effects that are significantly positive for a temporary government purchases variable and significantly negative for monetary movements. However, the results do not support the theoretical distinction between money shocks and anticipated changes in money. Since the study focuses on realized real returns, which can be measured in a straightforward manner, there is no evidence on the hypothesis that expected real returns, which are calculated on the basis of incomplete in-formation, rise with monetary disturbances. Because this proposition is sensitive to the specification of information sets, It may be infeasible to test it directly.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 0490.

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Date of creation: Jun 1980
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Publication status: published as Barro, Robert J. "Intertemporal substitution and the business cycle," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 237-268, January 1981. Also: Barro, Robert J. and Robert G. King. "Time-Separable Preferences And Intertemporal-Substitution Models Of Business Cycles," Quarterly Journal of Economics, 1984, v99(4), 817-840.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0490

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  1. A. S. Blinder & S. Fischer, 1978. "Inventories, Rational Expectations, and the Business Cycle," Working papers 220, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Fama, Eugene F. & Schwert, G. William, 1977. "Asset returns and inflation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 115-146, November.
  3. Lucas, Robert E., 1977. "Understanding business cycles," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 7-29, January.
  4. McCallum, B. T., 1978. "Dating, discounting, and the robustness of the Lucas-Sargent proposition," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 121-129, January.
  5. Hall, Robert E., 1980. "Labor supply and aggregate fluctuations," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 7-33, January.
  6. Fischer, Stanley, 1977. "Long-Term Contracts, Rational Expectations, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 191-205, February.
  7. Barro, Robert J., 1976. "Rational expectations and the role of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 1-32, January.
  8. Ray C. Fair, 1978. "An Analysis of the Accuracy of Four Macroeconometric Models," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 492, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  9. Jaffe, Jeffrey F & Mandelker, Gershon, 1976. "The "Fisher Effect" for Risky Assets: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 31(2), pages 447-58, May.
  10. Nelson, Charles R, 1976. "Inflation and Rates of Return on Common Stocks," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 31(2), pages 471-83, May.
  11. Thomas J. Sargent, 1973. "Rational Expectations, the Real Rate of Interest, and the Natural Rate of Unemployment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 4(2), pages 429-480.
  12. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1972. "Expectations and the neutrality of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 103-124, April.
  13. Gray, Jo Anna, 1976. "Wage indexation: A macroeconomic approach," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 221-235, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Willem H. Buiter, 1987. "The Right Combination of Demand and Supply Policies: The Case for a Two-Handed Approach," NBER Working Papers 2333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1990. "World Real Interest Rates," NBER Working Papers 3317, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1990. "World Real Interest Rates," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1990, Volume 5, pages 15-74 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Barry, Frank, 1999. "Government Consumption and Private Investment in Closed and Open Economies," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 93-106, January.
  4. Sanford Grossman & Laurence Weiss, 1980. "Heterogeneous Information and the Theory of the Business Cycle," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 558, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  5. John Huizinga & Frederic S. Mishkin, 1984. "Inflation and Real Interest Rates on Assets with Different Risk Characteristics," NBER Working Papers 1333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Samson, Lucie, 1988. "Chocs sectoriels et chômage," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 64(4), pages 532-544, décembre.
  7. Ni, Shawn, 1995. "An empirical analysis on the substitutability between private consumption and government purchases," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 593-605, December.
  8. Finn Kydland & Edward C. Prescott, 1980. "Time to Build and the Persistence of Unemployment," Discussion Papers 453, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.

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