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Do Mood Swings Drive Business Cycles and is it Rational?

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  • Paul Beaudry
  • Deokwoo Nam
  • Jian Wang

Abstract

This paper provides new evidence in support of the idea that bouts of optimism and pessimism drive much of US business cycles. In particular, we begin by using sign-restriction based identification schemes to isolate innovations in optimism or pessimism and we document the extent to which such episodes explain macroeconomic fluctuations. We then examine the link between these identified mood shocks and subsequent developments in fundamentals using alternative identification schemes (i.e., variants of the maximum forecast error variance approach). We find that there is a very close link between the two, suggesting that agents' feelings of optimism and pessimism are at least partially rational as total factor productivity (TFP) is observed to rise 8-10 quarters after an initial bout of optimism. While this later finding is consistent with some previous findings in the news shock literature, we cannot rule out that such episodes reflect self-fulfilling beliefs. Overall, we argue that mood swings account for over 50% of business cycle fluctuations in hours and output.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17651.

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Date of creation: Dec 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17651

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  1. Deokwoo Nam & Jian Wang, 2010. "Understanding the effect of productivity changes on international relative prices: the role of news shocks," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 61, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  2. Enders, Zeno & Müller, Gernot J. & Scholl, Almuth, 2011. "How do fiscal and technology shocks affect real exchange rates?: New evidence for the United States," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 53-69, January.
  3. Roger E.A. Farmer & Jang Ting Guo, 1992. "Real Business Cycles and the Animal Spirits Hypothesis," UCLA Economics Working Papers 680, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. Robert B. Barsky & Eric R. Sims, 2009. "News Shocks," NBER Working Papers 15312, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Neville Francis & Michael T. Owyang & Jennifer E. Roush & Riccardo DiCecio, 2010. "A flexible finite-horizon alternative to long-run restrictions with an application to technology shock," Working Papers 2005-024, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  6. Martial Dupaigne & Franck Portier & Paul Beaudry, 2007. "The International Propagation of News Shocks," 2007 Meeting Papers 251, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. G. Peersman & R. Straub, 2005. "Technology Shocks and Robust Sign Restrictions in a Euro Area SVAR," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 05/288, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  8. Deokwoo Nam & Jian Wang, 2010. "The effects of news about future productivity on international relative prices: an empirical investigation," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 64, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  9. George A. Akerlof, 2009. "How Human Psychology Drives the Economy and Why It Matters," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1175-1175.
  10. Paul Beaudry & Bernd Lucke, 2009. "Letting Different Views about Business Cycles Compete," NBER Working Papers 14950, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Benhabib, Jess & Farmer, Roger E.A., 1991. "Indeterminacy and Increasing Returns," Working Papers 91-59, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
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Cited by:
  1. Nadav Ben Zeev & Hashmat U. Khan, 2012. "Investment-Specific News Shocks and U.S. Business Cycles," Carleton Economic Papers 12-05, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised 25 Feb 2013.
  2. Deokwoo Nam & Jian Wang, 2012. "Are predictable improvements in TFP contractionary or expansionary? implications from sectoral TFP," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 114, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  3. André Kurmann & Elmar Mertens, 2013. "Stock prices, news, and economic fluctuations: comment," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2013-08, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Arias, Jonas E. & Rubio-Ramírez, Juan F. & Waggoner, Daniel F., 2014. "Inference Based on SVARs Identified with Sign and Zero Restrictions: Theory and Applications," Dynare Working Papers 30, CEPREMAP.
  5. Stéphane Dées & Jochen Güntner, 2014. "The International Dimension of Confidence Shocks," Economics working papers 2014-05, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  6. Volha Audzei, 2012. "Efficiency of Central Bank Policy During the Crisis : Role of Expectations in Reinforcing Hoarding Behavior," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp477, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economic Institute, Prague.
  7. Steinar Holden, 2012. "Implications of insights from behavioral economics for macroeconomic models," Working Paper 2012/12, Norges Bank.
  8. Beaudry, Paul & Portier, Franck, 2013. "News Driven Business Cycles: Insights and Challenges," CEPR Discussion Papers 9624, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Driscoll, John C. & Holden, Steinar, 2014. "Behavioral Economics and Macroeconomic Models," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2014-43, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. Zeno Enders & Michael Kleemann & Gernot Müller, 2013. "Growth Expectations, Undue Optimism, and Short-Run Fluctuations," CESifo Working Paper Series 4548, CESifo Group Munich.
  11. Christopher M. Gunn, 2013. "Animal Spirits as an Engine of Boom-Busts and Throttle of Productivity Growth," Carleton Economic Papers 13-04, Carleton University, Department of Economics.

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