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The Life Cycle of US Economic Expansions

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  • Edward E. Leamer

Abstract

Graphs that allow side by side comparisons of the six longer US expansions since 1950 suggest that these expansions have four distinct phases: (1) a high growth recovery during which the rate of unemployment declines to its pre-recession level, (2) a modest growth plateau during which the rate of unemployment is constant, (3) a growth spurt that drives unemployment down further and (4) a second plateau with modest growth and constant rate of unemployment. There have been only three expansions that have experienced the spurt and none has experienced a second spurt. These phases involve substantially different rates of GDP growth, but within each of these four phases GDP growth is largely unpredictable. Forecast accuracy thus comes mostly from understanding the transitions. This requires both data and economics. The economics takes the form of a predator/prey model of the cycle, where the prey are investment opportunities and the predators are entrepreneurs. A probit model of the transition into recession raises concerns about how much longer the aged Bush/Clinton expansion can last.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8192.

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Date of creation: Mar 2001
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8192

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  1. Arturo Estrella & Gikas A. Hardouvelis, 1989. "The term structure as a predictor of real economic activity," Research Paper 8907, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  2. Hamilton, James D & Kim, Dong Heon, 2002. "A Reexamination of the Predictability of Economic Activity Using the Yield Spread," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 34(2), pages 340-60, May.
  3. Stock, J.H. & Watson, M.W., 1989. "New Indexes Of Coincident And Leading Economic Indicators," Papers 178d, Harvard - J.F. Kennedy School of Government.
  4. Hamilton, James D, 1989. "A New Approach to the Economic Analysis of Nonstationary Time Series and the Business Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 357-84, March.
  5. Robert J. Gordon, 2000. "Does the "New Economy" Measure up to the Great Inventions of the Past?," NBER Working Papers 7833, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Estrella, Arturo & Mishkin, Frederic S., 1997. "The predictive power of the term structure of interest rates in Europe and the United States: Implications for the European Central Bank," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(7), pages 1375-1401, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Gomez-Biscarri, Javier, 2008. "Changes in the informational content of term spreads: Is monetary policy becoming less effective?," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 60(5), pages 415-435.
  2. Potter Simon M., 2000. "A Nonlinear Model of the Business Cycle," Studies in Nonlinear Dynamics & Econometrics, De Gruyter, vol. 4(2), pages 1-11, July.
  3. Javier Gómez, . "Changes in the Informational Content of the Spread: Is Monetary Policy Becoming Less Effective?," Faculty Working Papers 05/07, School of Economics and Business Administration, University of Navarra.
  4. Javier Gómez Biscarri, 2002. "Dating Recessions from Industrial Production Indexes: An Analysis for Europe and the US," Faculty Working Papers 05/02, School of Economics and Business Administration, University of Navarra.

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