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Power law distribution of the duration and magnitude of recessions in capitalist economies: breakdown of scaling

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  • Ormerod, Paul
  • Mounfield, Craig

Abstract

Power law distributions of macroscopic observables are ubiquitous in both the natural and social sciences. They are indicative of correlated, cooperative phenomena between groups of interacting agents at the microscopic level. In this paper, we argue that when one is considering aggregate macroeconomic data (annual growth rates in real per capita GDP in the seventeen leading capitalist economies from 1870 through to 1994) the magnitude and duration of recessions over the business cycle do indeed follow power law like behaviour for a significant proportion of the data (demonstrating the existence of cooperative phenomena amongst economic agents). Crucially, however, there are systematic deviations from this behaviour when one considers the frequency of occurrence of large recessions. Under these circumstances the power law scaling breaks down. It is argued that it is the adaptive behaviour of the agents (their ability to recognise the changing economic environment) which modifies their cooperative behaviour.

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  • Ormerod, Paul & Mounfield, Craig, 2001. "Power law distribution of the duration and magnitude of recessions in capitalist economies: breakdown of scaling," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 293(3), pages 573-582.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:phsmap:v:293:y:2001:i:3:p:573-582
    DOI: 10.1016/S0378-4371(01)00108-X
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hideaki Aoyama & Yuichi Nagahara & Mitsuhiro P. Okazaki & Wataru Souma & Hideki Takayasu & Misako Takayasu, 2000. "Pareto's Law for Income of Individuals and Debt of Bankrupt Companies," Papers cond-mat/0006038, arXiv.org.
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    Cited by:

    1. Salvador Pueyo, 2013. "Is it a power law distribution? The case of economic contractions," Papers 1310.2567, arXiv.org.
    2. Wright, Ian, 2005. "The social architecture of capitalism," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 346(3), pages 589-620.
    3. Wright, Ian, 2009. "Implicit Microfoundations for Macroeconomics," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 3, pages 1-27.
    4. Noell, Christian, 2006. "Self-Organization in Agricultural Sectors and the Relevance of Complex Systems Approaches for Applied Economics," 2006 Annual Meeting, August 12-18, 2006, Queensland, Australia 25516, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    5. Ausloos, Marcel & Miśkiewicz, Janusz & Sanglier, Michèle, 2004. "The durations of recession and prosperity: does their distribution follow a power or an exponential law?," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 339(3), pages 548-558.
    6. Mauro Gallegati & Gianfranco Giulioni & Nozomi Kichiji, 2003. "Complex Dynamics And Financial Fragility In An Agent-Based Model," Advances in Complex Systems (ACS), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 6(03), pages 267-282.
    7. Guilmi, Corrado Di & Gallegati, Mauro & Ormerod, Paul, 2004. "Scaling invariant distributions of firms’ exit in OECD countries," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 334(1), pages 267-273.
    8. Salvador Pueyo, 2014. "Ecological Econophysics for Degrowth," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(6), pages 1-53, May.
    9. Gaffeo, Edoardo & Gallegati, Mauro & Giulioni, Gianfranco & Palestrini, Antonio, 2003. "Power laws and macroeconomic fluctuations," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 324(1), pages 408-416.
    10. Ormerod, Paul, 2002. "The US business cycle: power law scaling for interacting units with complex internal structure," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 314(1), pages 774-785.
    11. Wright, Ian, 2005. "The duration of recessions follows an exponential not a power law," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 345(3), pages 608-610.
    12. Chris Noell, 2007. "A look into the nature of complex systems and beyond "Stonehenge" economics: coping with complexity or ignoring it in applied economics?," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 37(2-3), pages 219-235, September.
    13. Miśkiewicz, J. & Ausloos, M., 2004. "A logistic map approach to economic cycles. (I). The best adapted companies," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 336(1), pages 206-214.
    14. Marcel Ausloos, 2014. "A biased view of a few possible components when reflecting on the present decade financial and economic crisis," Papers 1412.0127, arXiv.org.
    15. Redelico, Francisco O. & Proto, Araceli N. & Ausloos, Marcel, 2008. "Power law for the duration of recession and prosperity in Latin American countries," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 387(25), pages 6330-6336.
    16. Matutinović, Igor & Salthe, Stanley N. & Ulanowicz, Robert E., 2016. "The mature stage of capitalist development: Models, signs and policy implications," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 17-30.
    17. Di Guilmi, Corrado & Gaffeo, Edoardo & Gallegati, Mauro, 2004. "Empirical results on the size distribution of business cycle phases," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 333(C), pages 325-334.
    18. Fabio Clementi & Marco Gallegati & Mauro Gallegati, 2015. "Growth and Cycles of the Italian Economy Since 1861: The New Evidence," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 1(1), pages 25-59, March.

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