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Timing is All: Elections and the Duration of United States Business Cycles

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  • Michael W. Klein

Abstract

Political business cycle theories predict that the occurrence and outcome of elections affect the timing of business cycle turning points. Opportunistic political business cycle theory predicts that a contraction is more likely to end soon after an election than at other times. Rational partisan political business cycle theory predicts differences in the likelihood of the end of an expansion after an election depending upon the party of newly-elected president. This paper directly tests the effect of elections on the turning points of the United States business cycle during analysis. The prediction that a contraction is more likely to end in the period before an election than in other periods is not supported by our empirical results. There is significant evidence. however. that an expansion is significantly more likely to end after the election of a Republican president but not after the election of a Democratic president in the post-World War I and post-World War II periods. This is consistent with the predictions of rational partisan political business cycle theory.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4383.

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Date of creation: Jun 1993
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Publication status: published as Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, vol. 28, no. 1, February 1996,pp. 84-101.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4383

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  1. Daniel E. Sichel, 1989. "Business cycle duration dependence: a parametric approach," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 98, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  2. Francis X. Diebold & Glenn D. Rudebusch, 1990. "Have postwar economic fluctuations been stabilized?," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 33, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. Francis X. Diebold & Glenn D. Rudebusch, 1988. "A nonparametric investigation of duration dependence in the American business cycle," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 90, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Alesina, Alberto, 1987. "Macroeconomic Policy in a Two-Party System as a Repeated Game," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(3), pages 651-78, August.
  5. Alesina, Alberto F & Roubini, Nouriel, 1990. "Political Cycles in OECD Economies," CEPR Discussion Papers 470, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Alberto Alesina, 1988. "Macroeconomics and Politics," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1988, Volume 3, pages 13-62 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Alesina, Alberto, 1987. "Macroeconomic Policy in a Two-party System as a Repeated Game," Scholarly Articles 4552531, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Heckman, James J. & Singer, Burton, 1984. "Econometric duration analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 63-132.
  9. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1990. "Equilibrium Political Budget Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 21-36, March.
  10. Kiefer, Nicholas M, 1988. "Economic Duration Data and Hazard Functions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 646-79, June.
  11. Alesina, Alberto & Tabellini, Guido, 1988. "Credibility and politics," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(2-3), pages 542-550, March.
  12. Roubini, Nouriel & Alesina, Alberto, 1992. "Political Cycles in OECD Economies," Scholarly Articles 4553025, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Nordhaus, William D, 1975. "The Political Business Cycle," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(2), pages 169-90, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Francis X. Diebold & Glenn D. Rudebusch, 2001. "Five questions about business cycles," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 1-15.
  2. Block, Steven A. & Vaaler, Paul M., 2004. "The price of democracy: sovereign risk ratings, bond spreads and political business cycles in developing countries," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 917-946, October.
  3. Castro, Vítor, 2008. "The duration of economic expansions and recessions : More than duration dependence," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 860, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  4. Berlemann, Michael & Markwardt, Gunther, 2003. "Partisan cycles and pre-electoral uncertainty," Dresden Discussion Paper Series in Economics 01/03, Dresden University of Technology, Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Economics.
  5. Koen Schoors & Konstantin Sonin, 2005. "Passive Creditors," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(1), pages 57-86, 07.

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