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Why Are Beveridge-Nelson and Unobserved-Component Decompositions of GDP So Different?

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  • James Morley

    (Washington University in St. Louis)

  • Charles Nelson

    (University of Washington)

  • Eric Zivot

    (University of Washington)

Abstract

This paper reconciles two widely-used decompositions of GDP into trend and cycle that yield starkly different results. Beveridge-Nelson (BN) implies that a stochastic trend accounts for most of the variation in output, while Unobserved-Components (UC) implies cyclical variation is dominant. Which is correct has broad implications for the relative importance of real versus nominal shocks. We show the difference arises from the restriction imposed in UC that trend and cycle innovations are uncorrelated. When this restriction is relaxed, the UC decomposition is identical to the BN decomposition. Furthermore, the zero correlation restriction can be rejected for U.S. quarterly GDP, with the estimated correlation being –0.9.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Washington, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number UWEC-2002-01.

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Date of creation: Jan 2002
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Publication status: Published in Review of Economics and Statistics, Volume LXXXV, No. 2. May, 2003
Handle: RePEc:udb:wpaper:uwec-2002-01

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  1. Kim, C-J & Nelson, C-R, 1997. "Friedman's Plucking Model of Business Fluctuations : Tests and Estimates of Permanent and Transitory Components," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 97-06, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  2. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Danny Quah, 1988. "The Dynamic Effects of Aggregate Demand and Supply Disturbance," Working papers 497, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Sichel, Daniel E, 1993. "Business Cycle Asymmetry: A Deeper Look," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(2), pages 224-36, April.
  4. Daniel E. Sichel, 1992. "Inventories and the three phases of the business cycle," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 128, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Neftci, Salih N, 1984. "Are Economic Time Series Asymmetric over the Business Cycle?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(2), pages 307-28, April.
  6. Beveridge, Stephen & Nelson, Charles R., 1981. "A new approach to decomposition of economic time series into permanent and transitory components with particular attention to measurement of the `business cycle'," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 151-174.
  7. Clark, Peter K, 1987. "The Cyclical Component of U.S. Economic Activity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(4), pages 797-814, November.
  8. Harvey, A C, 1985. "Trends and Cycles in Macroeconomic Time Series," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(3), pages 216-27, June.
  9. Beaudry, Paul & Koop, Gary, 1993. "Do recessions permanently change output?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 149-163, April.
  10. Cochrane, John H, 1988. "How Big Is the Random Walk in GNP?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(5), pages 893-920, October.
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