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The Australian Business Cycle: A Coincident Indicator Approach

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  • Christian Gillitzer

    (Reserve Bank of Australia)

  • Jonathan Kearns

    (Reserve Bank of Australia)

  • Anthony Richards

    (Reserve Bank of Australia)

Abstract

This paper constructs coincident indices of Australian economic activity using techniques for estimating approximate factor models with many series, using data that begin in the early 1960s. The resulting monthly and quarterly indices both provide plausible measures of the Australian business cycle. The indices are quite robust to the selection of variables used in their construction, the sample period used in estimation, and the number of factors included. Notably, only a small number of factors is needed to adequately capture the business cycle. The coincident indices provide a much smoother representation of the cycle in economic activity than do standard national accounts measures, especially in the period prior to the early 1980s. Accordingly, they suggest that the marked decline in volatility evident in quarterly Australian GDP growth that occurred up to the 1980s may overstate the reduction in the volatility of economic activity and may at least partially reflect improvements in the measurement of GDP. Because the coincident indices present a smoother perspective of the business cycle in the 1960s and 1970s, they identify fewer recessions in this period than does GDP. Over the past 45 years, the coincident indices locate three recessions – periods when there was a widespread downturn in economic activity; in 1974–1975, 1982–1983 and 1990–1991.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Reserve Bank of Australia in its series RBA Research Discussion Papers with number rdp2005-07.

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Date of creation: Oct 2005
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Handle: RePEc:rba:rbardp:rdp2005-07

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Keywords: business cycle; factor models; coincident indicator; Australia;

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References

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  1. Mario Forni & Lucrezia Reichlin, 1998. "Let's get real: a factor analytical approach to disaggregated business cycle dynamics," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/10147, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  2. Dan Andrews & Marion Kohler, 2005. "International Business Cycle Co-movements through Time," RBA Annual Conference Volume, in: Christopher Kent & David Norman (ed.), The Changing Nature of the Business Cycle Reserve Bank of Australia.
  3. Gerhard Bry & Charlotte Boschan, 1971. "Foreword to "Cyclical Analysis of Time Series: Selected Procedures and Computer Programs"," NBER Chapters, in: Cyclical Analysis of Time Series: Selected Procedures and Computer Programs, pages -1 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Adrian Pagan, 1997. "Towards an Understanding of Some Business Cycle Characteristics," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 30(1), pages 1-15.
  5. Gerhard Bry & Charlotte Boschan, 1971. "Cyclical Analysis of Time Series: Selected Procedures and Computer Programs," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bry_71-1, May.
  6. Mario Forni & Marc Hallin & Lucrezia Reichlin & Marco Lippi, 2000. "The generalised dynamic factor model: identification and estimation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/10143, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  7. John Simon, 2001. "The Decline in Australian Output Volatility," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2001-01, Reserve Bank of Australia.
  8. Paul Cashin & Sam Ouliaris, 2001. "Key Features of Australian Business Cycles," IMF Working Papers 01/171, International Monetary Fund.
  9. Mario Forni & Marc Hallin & Marco Lippi & Lucrezia Reichlin, 2005. "The generalised dynamic factor model: one sided estimation and forecasting," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/10129, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  10. Forni, Mario, et al, 2001. "Coincident and Leading Indicators for the Euro Area," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(471), pages C62-85, May.
  11. Bernanke, Ben S. & Boivin, Jean, 2003. "Monetary policy in a data-rich environment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 525-546, April.
  12. Adrian Pagan & Don Harding, 2005. "A suggested framework for classifying the modes of cycle research," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(2), pages 151-159.
  13. Jean Boivin & Serena Ng, 2005. "Understanding and Comparing Factor-Based Forecasts," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 1(3), December.
  14. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1999. "Forecasting Inflation," NBER Working Papers 7023, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Jushan Bai & Serena Ng, 2000. "Determining the Number of Factors in Approximate Factor Models," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 440, Boston College Department of Economics.
  16. Ben Bernanke & Jean Boivin & Piotr S. Eliasz, 2005. "Measuring the Effects of Monetary Policy: A Factor-augmented Vector Autoregressive (FAVAR) Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(1), pages 387-422, January.
  17. Harding, Don, 2002. "The Australian Business Cycle: A New View," MPRA Paper 3698, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  18. Don Harding & Adrian Pagan, 2000. "Disecting the Cycle: A Methodological Investigation," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1164, Econometric Society.
  19. Harding, Don & Pagan, Adrian, 2003. "A comparison of two business cycle dating methods," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 27(9), pages 1681-1690, July.
  20. Inklaar, Robert & Jacobs, Jan & Romp, Ward, 2003. "Business cycle indexes: does a heap of data help?," CCSO Working Papers 200312, University of Groningen, CCSO Centre for Economic Research.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Philip Liu, 2008. "The Role of International Shocks in Australia’s Business Cycle," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2008-08, Reserve Bank of Australia.
  2. Philip Liu, 2007. "Stabilizing The Australian Business Cycle: Good Luck Or Good Policy?," CAMA Working Papers 2007-24, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.

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