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What caused the Great Moderation? : some cross-country evidence

  • Peter M. Summers

Over the last 20 years or so, the volatility of aggregate economic activity has fallen dramatically in most of the industrialized world. The timing and nature of the decline vary across countries, but the phenomenon has been so widespread and persistent that it has earned the label: “the Great Moderation.” A growing body of research has focused on the Great Moderation and its possible explanations, especially as it applies to the U.S. experience. The literature documents the international dimension of this volatility reduction, but so far little is known about the possible causes from a cross-country perspective. Summers shows why the Great Moderation has indeed been a common feature of much of the industrialized world. Specifically, he focuses on the reduction in the volatility of GDP growth that occurred in the G-7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Australia. He uses international evidence to evaluate the merits of three likely explanations. He concludes that, from an international perspective, good luck in the form of smaller energy price shocks is not a compelling explanation for widespread moderation of GDP growth volatility. Rather, the Great Moderation is more likely due to better monetary policy outcomes and improved inventory management techniques.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in its journal Economic Review.

Volume (Year): (2005)
Issue (Month): Q III ()
Pages: 5-32

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedker:y:2005:i:qiii:p:5-32:n:v.90no.3
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  1. Terence C. Mills & Ping Wang, 2003. "Have output growth rates stabilised? evidence from the g-7 economies," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 50(3), pages 232-246, 08.
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  8. Allan H. Meltzer, 2005. "Origins of the Great Inflation," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 145-176.
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