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Business-Cycle Durations and Postwar Stabilization of the U.S. Economy

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  • Watson, Mark W

Abstract

Average postwar expansions are twice as long as prewar expansions and contractions are one-half as long. This paper investigates three possible explanations. The first explanation is that shocks to the economy have been smaller in the postwar period. The second explanation is that the composition of output has shifted from very cyclical sectors to less cyclical sectors. The third explanation is that the apparent stabilization is largely spurious and is caused by differences in the way that prewar and postwar business-cycle reference dates were chosen by the National Bureau of Economic Research The evidence presented in this paper favors this third explanation. Copyright 1994 by American Economic Association.

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  • Watson, Mark W, 1994. "Business-Cycle Durations and Postwar Stabilization of the U.S. Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 24-46, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:84:y:1994:i:1:p:24-46
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Diebold, Francis X & Rudebusch, Glenn D, 1992. "Have Postwar Economic Fluctuations Been Stabilized?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 993-1005, September.
    2. Balke, Nathan S & Gordon, Robert J, 1989. "The Estimation of Prewar Gross National Product: Methodology and New Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(1), pages 38-92, February.
    3. J. Bradford DeLong & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "The Changing Cyclical Variability of Economic Activity in the United States," NBER Chapters,in: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, pages 679-734 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Robert J. Gordon, 1986. "The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gord86-1.
    5. Martin Neil Baily, 1978. "Stabilization Policy and Private Economic Behavior," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 9(1), pages 11-60.
    6. King, Robert G. & Plosser, Charles I., 1994. "Real business cycles and the test of the Adelmans," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 405-438, April.
    7. 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.
    8. Wesley Clair Mitchell, 1927. "Business Cycles: The Problem and Its Setting," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number mitc27-1.
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