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Bad news in the Great Depression, the Great Recession, and other U.S. recessions: A comparative study

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  • L’Huillier, Jean-Paul
  • Yoo, Donghoon

Abstract

In economic recessions consumption usually drops in tandem with other aggregate quantities as output or employment. Following the permanent income hypothesis, these drops can be rationalized by the idea that consumers have pessimistic views about their long-run income. Using a standard signal-extraction model, we show that this pessimism can be due either to a persistent fall of aggregate productivity before and during the recession (signaling a future decline of income), or to other negative information unrelated to contemporaneous fundamentals, which we label “bad news”. We classify U.S. recessions (from 1919 to 2015) according to a (bad) news index reflecting this negative information. We find that both the Great Depression and the Great Recession score highest in this index. The index is such that we can rule out that this is due merely to the length or the depth of these recessions. Instead, these two recessions are similar in that both were aggravated by a wave of pessimism about future income which cannot be related to contemporaneous fundamentals.

Suggested Citation

  • L’Huillier, Jean-Paul & Yoo, Donghoon, 2017. "Bad news in the Great Depression, the Great Recession, and other U.S. recessions: A comparative study," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 79-98.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:dyncon:v:81:y:2017:i:c:p:79-98
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jedc.2017.01.015
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    Cited by:

    1. Corrado, Luisa & Silgado-Gómez, Edgar & Yoo, Donghoon & Waldmann, Robert, 2022. "Ambiguous economic news and heterogeneity: What explains asymmetric consumption responses?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C).
    2. Gabriel P. Mathy, 2020. "How much did uncertainty shocks matter in the Great Depression?," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 14(2), pages 283-323, May.
    3. Jean-Paul L’Huillier & Robert Waldmann & Donghoon Yoo, 2021. "What Is Consumer Confidence?," ISER Discussion Paper 1135r, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University, revised Dec 2022.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Pessimism; Beliefs; Permanent income hypothesis; News and noise;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E20 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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