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Evaluating the Costs of Business Cycles in Models of Endogenous Growth

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  • Gadi Barlevy

Abstract

In his famous monograph, Lucas (1987) put forth an argument that the welfare gains from reducing the volatility of aggregate consumption are negligible. Subsequent work that has revisited Lucas' calculation has continued to find only small benefits from reducing the volatility of consumption, further reinforcing the perception that business cycles don't matter. This paper argues instead that fluctuations could affect the growth process, which could have much larger effects than consumption volatility. I present an argument for why stabilization could increase growth without a reduction in current consumption, which could imply substantial welfare effects as Lucas (1987) already observed in his calculation. Empirical evidence and calibration exercises suggest that the welfare effects can be quite substantial, possibly as much as two orders of magnitude greater than Lucas' original estimates.

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Paper provided by Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science in its series Discussion Papers with number 1287.

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Date of creation: Mar 2000
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Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1287

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  1. Fernando Alvarez & Urban J. Jermann, 2004. "Using Asset Prices to Measure the Cost of Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1223-1256, December.
  2. Aghion, P. & Howitt, P., 1989. "A Model Of Growth Through Creative Destruction," Working papers 527, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Joshua Aizenman & Nancy Marion, 1991. "Policy Uncertainty, Persistence and Growth," NBER Working Papers 3848, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Andrew Atkeson & Christopher Phelan, 1994. "Reconsidering the Costs of Business Cycles with Incomplete Markets," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1994, Volume 9, pages 187-218 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1992. "A Model of Growth Through Creative Destruction," Scholarly Articles 12490578, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Abel, Andrew B, 1983. "Optimal Investment under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 228-33, March.
  7. Aghion, Philippe & Saint-Paul, Gilles, 1998. "VIRTUES OF BAD TIMES Interaction Between Productivity Growth and Economic Fluctuations," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(03), pages 322-344, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Jordi Galí & Mark Gertler & J. David López-Salido, 2003. "Markups, Gaps, and the Welfare Costs of Business Fluctuations," Working Papers 45, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  2. Satyajit Chatterjee & Dean Corbae, 2003. "On the welfare gains of eliminating a small likelihood of economic crises: A case for stabilization policies?," Working Papers 03-20, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  3. Aude Pommeret & Anne Epaulard, 2001. "Recursive Utility, Endogenous Growth, and the Welfare Cost of Volatility," IMF Working Papers 01/5, International Monetary Fund.
  4. Marcelo Bianconi, 2004. "The Welfare Gains from Stabilization in a Stochastically Growing Economy with Idiosyncratic Shocks and Flexible Labor Supply," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0413, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  5. Stephane Pallage & Michel Robe, 2000. "Magnitude X on the Richter Scale: Welfare Cost of Business Cycles in Developing Countries," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 124, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  6. Satyajit Chatterjee & Dean Corbae, 2000. "On the welfare gains of reducing the likelihood of economic crises," Working Paper 0015, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  7. Tom Krebs, 2002. "Growth & Welfare Effects of Business Cycles In Economies with Idiosyncratic Human Capital Risk," Working Papers 2002-31, Brown University, Department of Economics.

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