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The Brevity and Violence of Contractions and Expansions

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  • Alisdair McKay
  • Ricardo Reis

Abstract

Early studies of business cycles argued that contractions in economic activity were briefer (shorter) and more violent (rapid) than expansions. This paper systematically investigates this claim and in the process discovers a robust new business cycle fact: expansions and contractions in output are equally brief and violent but contractions in employment are briefer and more violent than expansions. The difference arises because employment typically lags output around peaks but both series roughly coincide in their troughs. We discuss the performance of existing business cycle models in accounting for this fact, and conclude that none can fully account for it. We then show that a simple model that combines three familiar ingredients%u2013labor hoarding, a choice of when to scrap old technologies, and job training or job search%u2013can account for the business cycle fact.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12400.

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Date of creation: Aug 2006
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Publication status: published as 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.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12400

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Cited by:
  1. Giorgio Fagiolo & Mauro Napoletano & Andrea Roventini, 2008. "Are output growth-rate distributions fat-tailed? some evidence from OECD countries," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(5), pages 639-669.
  2. Ana Gomez Loscos & M. Dolores Gadea & Antonio Montañes, 2011. "Cycles inside cycles: Spanish regional aggregation," ERSA conference papers ersa11p99, European Regional Science Association.
  3. Regis Barnichon, 2009. "Vacancy posting, job separation and unemployment fluctuations," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2009-35, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Yi Wen & Huabin Wu, 2011. "Dynamics of externalities: a second-order perspective," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 187-206.
  5. S. Borağan Aruoba & Luigi Bocola & Frank Schorfheide, 2013. "Assessing DSGE Model Nonlinearities," NBER Working Papers 19693, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Canova, Fabio & Lopez-Salido, Jose David & Michelacci, Claudio, 2007. "The Labour Market Effects of Technology Shocks," CEPR Discussion Papers 6365, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Salvador Pueyo, 2014. "Ecological Econophysics for Degrowth," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(6), pages 3431-3483, May.
  8. Fabio Canova & David Lopez-Salido & Claudio Michelacci, 2009. "The ins and outs of unemployment: An analysis conditional on technology shocks," Economics Working Papers 1213, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jan 2012.
  9. Edoardo Gaffeo & Ivan Petrella & Damjan Pfajfar & Emiliano Santoro, 2012. "Loss Aversion and the Asymmetric Transmission of Monetary Policy," Discussion Papers 12-21, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  10. Candelon, Bertrand & Metiu, Norbert & Straetmans, Stefan, 2013. "Disentangling economic recessions and depressions," Discussion Papers 43/2013, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  11. Juan Urquiza, 2011. "Income Asymmetries and the Permanent Income Hypothesis," Documentos de Trabajo 409, Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile..
  12. Regis Barnichon, 2009. "Demand-driven job separation: reconciling search models with the ins and outs of unemployment," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2009-24, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. Fahr Staphen & Abbritti Mirko, 2011. "Macroeconomic implications of downward wage rigidities," wp.comunite 0088, Department of Communication, University of Teramo.
  14. Hernández-Veleros, Zeus Salvador, 2010. "Heterogeneous growth cycles/Ciclos de crecimiento heterogéneo," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 28, pages 625-650, Diciembre.
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