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What's Real About the Business Cycle?

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  • James D. Hamilton

Abstract

This paper argues that a linear statistical model with homoskedastic errors cannot capture the nineteenth-century notion of a recurring cyclical pattern in key economic aggregates. A simple nonlinear alternative is proposed and used to illustrate that the dynamic behavior of unemployment seems to change over the business cycle, with the unemployment rate rising more quickly than it falls. Furthermore, many but not all economic downturns are also accompanied by a dramatic change in the dynamic behavior of short-term interest rates. It is suggested that these nonlinearities are most naturally interpreted as resulting from short-run failures in the employment and credit markets, and that understanding these short-run failures is the key to understanding the nature of the business cycle.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11161.

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Date of creation: Feb 2005
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Publication status: published as Hamilton, James D. "What's Real About The Business Cycle?," FRB St. Louis - Review, 2005, v87(4,Jul/Aug), 435-452.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11161

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  1. Philip Rothman, 1998. "Forecasting Asymmetric Unemployment Rates," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(1), pages 164-168, February.
  2. Stock, James H, 1987. "Measuring Business Cycle Time," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(6), pages 1240-61, December.
  3. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  4. van Dijk, Dick & Franses, Philip Hans & Paap, Richard, 2002. "A nonlinear long memory model, with an application to US unemployment," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 110(2), pages 135-165, October.
  5. Arthur F. Burns & Wesley C. Mitchell, 1946. "Measuring Business Cycles," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number burn46-1, May.
  6. Marine Carrasco & Liang Hu, 2004. "Optimal test for Markov switching," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 396, Econometric Society.
  7. Pablo A. Neumeyer & Fabrizio Perri, 2004. "Business Cycles in Emerging Economies: The Role of Interest Rates," NBER Working Papers 10387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Wesley Clair Mitchell, 1927. "Business Cycles: The Problem and Its Setting," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number mitc27-1, May.
  9. Stock, James H., 1987. "Measuring Business Cycle Time," Scholarly Articles 3425950, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Hamilton, James D., 1987. "Monetary factors in the great depression," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 145-169, March.
  11. René Garcia, 1995. "Asymptotic Null Distribution of the Likelihood Ratio Test in Markov Switching Models," CIRANO Working Papers 95s-07, CIRANO.
  12. James D. Hamilton, 1988. "Role Of The International Gold Standard In Propagating The Great Depression," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 6(2), pages 67-89, 04.
  13. Hamilton, James D., 1996. "Specification testing in Markov-switching time-series models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 127-157, January.
  14. Granger, Clive W.J. & Machina, Mark J., 2006. "Structural attribution of observed volatility clustering," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 135(1-2), pages 15-29.
  15. Brock, William A. & Mirman, Leonard J., 1972. "Optimal economic growth and uncertainty: The discounted case," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 479-513, June.
  16. J. Bradford De Long & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Are Business Cycles Symmetric?," NBER Working Papers 1444, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Andrew Ang & Geert Bekaert, 1998. "Regime Switches in Interest Rates," NBER Working Papers 6508, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Miron, Jeffrey A, 1986. "Financial Panics, the Seasonality of the Nominal Interest Rate, and theFounding of the Fed," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 125-40, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Chai, Jian & Guo, Ju-E. & Meng, Lei & Wang, Shou-Yang, 2011. "Exploring the core factors and its dynamic effects on oil price: An application on path analysis and BVAR-TVP model," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(12), pages 8022-8036.
  2. Yetman, James, 2011. "Exporting recessions: International links and the business cycle," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 110(1), pages 12-14, January.
  3. McKay, Alisdair & Reis, Ricardo, 2008. "The brevity and violence of contractions and expansions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 738-751, May.
  4. Cem Cakmakli & Richard Paap & Dick van Dijk, 2012. "Measuring and Predicting Heterogeneous Recessions," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1206, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
  5. Luca Agnello & Vitor Castro & Ricardo M. Sousa, 2011. "How Does Fiscal Policy React to Wealth Composition and Asset Prices?," GEMF Working Papers 2011-18, GEMF - Faculdade de Economia, Universidade de Coimbra.
  6. Spyros Andreopoulos, 2006. "The real interest rate, the real oil price, and US unemployment revisited," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 06/592, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  7. Thomas B. King, 2005. "Labor productivity and job-market flows: trends, cycles, and correlations," Supervisory Policy Analysis Working Papers 2005-04, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  8. Stöber, Jakob & Czado, Claudia, 2014. "Regime switches in the dependence structure of multidimensional financial data," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 672-686.
  9. Benoit Bellone, 2005. "Classical Estimation of Multivariate Markov-Switching Models using MSVARlib," Econometrics 0508017, EconWPA.
  10. Mark W. Watson, 2005. "Commentary on "what's real about the business cycle?"," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 453-458.
  11. Kang, Wensheng & Ratti, Ronald A., 2013. "Structural oil price shocks and policy uncertainty," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 314-319.
  12. Julie L. Hotchkiss & John C. Robertson, 2006. "Asymmetric labor force participation decisions over the business cycle: evidence from U.S. microdata," Working Paper 2006-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  13. Luca Agnello & Gilles Dufrénot & Ricardo M. Sousa, 2012. "Adjusting the U.S. Fiscal Policy for Asset Prices: Evidence from a TVP-MS Framework," NIPE Working Papers 20/2012, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.

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