Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Interpreting the Great Moderation: Changes in the Volatility of Economic Activity at the Macro and Micro Levels

Contents:

Author Info

  • Steven J. Davis
  • James A. Kahn

Abstract

We review evidence on the Great Moderation in conjunction with evidence about volatility trends at the micro level. We combine the two types of evidence to develop a tentative story for important components of the aggregate volatility decline and its consequences. The key ingredients are declines in firm-level volatility and aggregate volatility -- most dramatically in the durable goods sector -- but the absence of a decline in household consumption volatility and individual earnings uncertainty. Our explanation for the aggregate volatility decline stresses improved supply-chain management, particularly in the durable goods sector, and, less important, a shift in production and employment from goods to services. We provide evidence that better inventory control made a substantial contribution to declines in firm-level and aggregate volatility. Consistent with this view, if we look past the turbulent 1970s and early 1980s much of the moderation reflects a decline in high frequency (short-term) fluctuations. While these developments represent efficiency gains, they do not imply (nor is there evidence for) a reduction in economic uncertainty faced by individuals and households.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14048.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14048.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: May 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Steven J. Davis & James A. Kahn, 2008. "Interpreting the Great Moderation: Changes in the Volatility of Economic Activity at the Macro and Micro Levels," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(4), pages 155-80, Fall.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14048

Note: EFG
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Email:
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords:

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Andres Arias & Gary Hansen & Lee Ohanian, 2007. "Why have business cycle fluctuations become less volatile?," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 43-58, July.
  2. Alan S. Blinder & Louis J. Maccini, 1991. "Taking Stock: A Critical Assessment of Recent Research on Inventories," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 73-96, Winter.
  3. Alejandro Justiniano & Giorgio E. Primiceri, 2008. "The Time-Varying Volatility of Macroeconomic Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 604-41, June.
  4. Domenico Giannone & Michèle Lenza & Lucrezia Reichlin, . "Explaining the great moderation: it is not the shocks," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/6413, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  5. Luca Gambetti & Jordi Galí, 2007. "On the sources of the Great Moderation," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  6. Mark Bils & James A. Kahn, 1999. "What Inventory Behavior Tells Us About Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 7310, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Orphanides, Athanasios, 1999. "The Quest for Prosperity Without Inflation," Working Paper Series 93, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
  8. Flavio Cunha & James Heckman, 2007. "The Evolution of Inequality, Heterogeneity and Uncertainty in Labor Earnings in the U.S. Economy," PIER Working Paper Archive 07-032, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  9. Lawrence J. Christiano & Terry J. Fitzgerald, 1999. "The Band pass filter," Working Paper 9906, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    • Lawrence J. Christiano & Terry J. Fitzgerald, 2003. "The Band Pass Filter," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(2), pages 435-465, 05.
  10. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2002. "The Evolution of Economic Understanding and Postwar Stabilization Policy," NBER Working Papers 9274, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Kahn, James A, 1987. "Inventories and the Volatility of Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 667-79, September.
  12. JONATHAN McCARTHY & EGON ZAKRAJSEK, 2007. "Inventory Dynamics and Business Cycles: What Has Changed?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(2-3), pages 591-613, 03.
  13. Olga gorbachev, 2007. "Did Household Consumption Become More Volatile?," ESE Discussion Papers 161, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  14. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2003. "Has the Business Cycle Changed and Why?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2002, Volume 17, pages 159-230 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2003. "Imperfect Knowledge, Inflation Expectations, and Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 9884, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Steven J. Davis & R. Jason Faberman & John Haltiwanger & Ron Jarmin & Javier Miranda, 2010. "Business Volatility, Job Destruction, and Unemployment," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 259-87, April.
  17. Humphreys, Brad R. & Maccini, Louis J. & Schuh, Scott, 2001. "Input and output inventories," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 347-375, April.
  18. F. Owen Irvine & Scott Schuh, 2005. "The roles of comovement and inventory investment in the reduction of output volatility," Working Papers 05-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  19. Romer, Christina D, 1986. "Is the Stabilization of the Postwar Economy a Figment of the Data?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 314-34, June.
  20. Athanasios Orphanides, 2002. "Monetary policy rules and the Great Inflation," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-8, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  21. Chang-Jin Kim & Charles Nelson & Jeremy M. Piger, 2003. "The less volatile U.S. economy: a Bayesian investigation of timing, breadth, and potential explanations," Working Papers 2001-016, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  22. Richard Clarida & Jordi Galí & Mark Gertler, 1997. "Monetary policy rules and macroeconomic stability: Evidence and some theory," Economics Working Papers 350, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised May 1999.
  23. Christopher A. Sims & Tao Zha, 2005. "Were There Regime Switches in U.S. Monetary Policy?," Working Papers 92, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  24. Margaret M. McConnell & Gabriel Perez Quiros, 1998. "Output fluctuations in the United States: what has changed since the early 1980s?," Staff Reports 41, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  25. Diego Comin & Sunil Mulani, 2006. "Diverging Trends in Aggregate and Firm Volatility," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 374-383, May.
  26. Whelan, Karl, 2002. "A Guide to U.S. Chain Aggregated NIPA Data," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 48(2), pages 217-33, June.
  27. Malkiel, Burton & Campbell, John & Lettau, Martin & Xu, Yexiao, 2001. "Have Individual Stocks Become More Volatile? An Empirical Exploration of Idiosyncratic Risk," Scholarly Articles 3128707, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  28. Diego Comin & Thomas Philippon, 2005. "The Rise in Firm-Level Volatility: Causes and Consequences," NBER Working Papers 11388, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. Daniel J. Vine & Valerie A. Ramey, 2006. "Declining Volatility in the U.S. Automobile Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1876-1889, December.
  30. Brown, Gregory & Kapadia, Nishad, 2007. "Firm-specific risk and equity market development," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 358-388, May.
  31. Chang-Jin Kim & Charles R. Nelson, 1999. "Has The U.S. Economy Become More Stable? A Bayesian Approach Based On A Markov-Switching Model Of The Business Cycle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 608-616, November.
  32. Karen E. Dynan & Douglas W. Elmendorf & Daniel E. Sichel, 2007. "The evolution of household income volatility," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-61, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  33. Steven J. Davis & John Haltiwanger & Ron Jarmin & Javier Miranda, 2006. "Volatility and Dispersion in Business Growth Rates: Publicly Traded versus Privately Held Firms," NBER Working Papers 12354, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  34. Bartholomew Moore & Louis J Maccini & Huntley Schaller, 2002. "The Interest Rate Learning and Inventory Investment," Economics Working Paper Archive 512, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics, revised Apr 2004.
  35. Fama, Eugene F. & French, Kenneth R., 2004. "New lists: Fundamentals and survival rates," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 229-269, August.
  36. M. V. Cacdac Warnock & Francis E. Warnock, 2000. "The declining volatility of U.S. employment: was Arthur Burns right?," International Finance Discussion Papers 677, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  37. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2002. "A Rehabilitation of Monetary Policy in the 1950's," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 121-127, May.
  38. Gerald Carlino & Robert DeFina & Keith Sill, 2007. "The long and large decline in state employment growth volatility," Working Papers 07-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  39. James A. Kahn & Margaret M. McConnell & Gabriel Perez-Quiros, 2002. "On the causes of the increased stability of the U.S. economy," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue May, pages 183-202.
  40. Erica L. Groshen & Simon Potter, 2003. "Has structural change contributed to a jobless recovery?," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 9(Aug).
  41. Nelson Edward, 2005. "The Great Inflation of the Seventies: What Really Happened?," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-50, July.
  42. Karl Whelan, 2000. "A guide to the use of chain aggregated NIPA data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-35, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  43. Daron Acemoglu & Kenneth Rogoff & Michael Woodford, 2009. "NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2008, Volume 23," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number acem08-1, October.
  44. repec:fip:fedgsq:y:2007:i:aug31 is not listed on IDEAS
  45. Ben S. Bernanke, 2007. "Housing, housing finance, and monetary policy," Speech 311, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  46. James A. Kahn, 2000. "Explaining the gap between new home sales and inventories," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 6(May).
  47. Dynan, Karen E. & Elmendorf, Douglas W. & Sichel, Daniel E., 2006. "Can financial innovation help to explain the reduced volatility of economic activity?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 123-150, January.
  48. James A. Kahn, 2008. "Durable goods inventories and the Great Moderation," Staff Reports 325, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  49. Steven J. Davis, 2008. "The Decline of Job Loss and Why It Matters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 263-67, May.
  50. Edwin M. Truman, 2003. "Inflation Targeting in the World Economy," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 346.
  51. Olivier Blanchard & John Simon, 2001. "The Long and Large Decline in U.S. Output Volatility," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(1), pages 135-174.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. On Macroeconomics After the Financial Crisis
    by bbatiz in NEP-HIS blog on 2014-06-03 19:23:29
  2. Virginia Postrel on "Macroegonomics"
    by Phil Miller in Market Power on 2009-03-31 18:18:59
  3. 'A Century of U.S. Central Banking: Goals, Frameworks, Accountability'
    by Mark Thoma in Economist's View on 2013-07-10 13:48:26
Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14048. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.