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Is the Great Moderation over? an empirical analysis

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  • Todd E. Clark

Abstract

The economy of the United States was markedly less volatile in the past two to three decades than in prior periods. The nation enjoyed long economic expansions in each of the last three decades, interrupted by recessions in 1990-91 and 2001 that were mild by historical standards. While it has proven difficult to conclusively pinpoint the causes of the reduced volatility, candidates include structural changes in the economy, better monetary policy, and smaller shocks (good luck). Many economists and policymakers came to view lower volatility--the Great Moderation--as likely to be permanent. ; More recently, the severity of the recession that started in late 2007 has led some observers to conclude the Great Moderation is over. The recession produced declines in economic activity steeper than in the sharp recessions of the 1950s, 1970s, and early 1980s. ; However, the occurrence of a sharp recession does not necessarily mean variability has returned to pre-Great Moderation levels or that the Great Moderation is over. For example, the recession may have produced a more modest rise in volatility that could be temporary. Whether any rise in volatility is more likely temporary than permanent will depend on the cause of the rise in volatility. An increase in volatility due to structural changes in the economy or monetary policy might be permanent. But an increase in volatility driven by larger shocks might prove temporary. ; Clark conducts a detailed statistical analysis of the putative rise in volatility and its sources to assess whether the Great Moderation is over. He concludes that, over time, macroeconomic volatility will likely undergo occasional shifts between high and low levels, with low volatility the norm.

Suggested Citation

  • Todd E. Clark, 2009. "Is the Great Moderation over? an empirical analysis," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q IV, pages 5-42.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedker:y:2009:i:qiv:p:5-42:n:v.94no.4
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    Cited by:

    1. Hanck, Christoph & Demetrescu, Matei & Kruse, Robinson, 2015. "Fixed-b Asymptotics for t-Statistics in the Presence of Time-Varying Volatility," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112916, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Cavaliere, Giuseppe & Nielsen, Morten Ørregaard & Taylor, A.M. Robert, 2017. "Quasi-maximum likelihood estimation and bootstrap inference in fractional time series models with heteroskedasticity of unknown form," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 198(1), pages 165-188.
    3. Demetrescu, Matei & Kruse, Robinson, 2015. "Testing heteroskedastic time series for normality," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113221, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. Everaert, Gerdie & Iseringhausen, Martin, 2018. "Measuring the international dimension of output volatility," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 20-39.
    5. Camacho, Maximo & Perez Quiros, Gabriel & Rodriguez Mendizabal, Hugo, 2011. "High-growth recoveries, inventories and the Great Moderation," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 1322-1339, August.
    6. Valcarcel, Victor J., 2013. "Exchange rate volatility and the time-varying effects of aggregate shocks," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 822-843.
    7. Breitung, Jörg & Demetrescu, Matei, 2015. "Instrumental variable and variable addition based inference in predictive regressions," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 187(1), pages 358-375.
    8. Morley, James & Singh, Aarti, 2009. "Inventory Mistakes and the Great Moderation," Working Papers 2009-04, University of Sydney, School of Economics, revised Oct 2012.
    9. Spierdijk, Laura & Umar, Zaghum, 2015. "Stocks, bonds, T-bills and inflation hedging: From great moderation to great recession," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 1-37.
    10. Matei Demetrescu & Christoph Hanck & Robinson Kruse, 2016. "Fixed-b Inference in the Presence of Time-Varying Volatility," CREATES Research Papers 2016-01, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    11. Gamber, Edward N. & Smith, Julie K. & Weiss, Matthew A., 2011. "Forecast errors before and during the Great Moderation," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 278-289, July.
    12. Keating, John W. & Valcarcel, Victor J., 2017. "What's so great about the Great Moderation?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 115-142.
    13. Luzzetti, Matthew N. & Neumuller, Seth, 2016. "Learning and the dynamics of consumer unsecured debt and bankruptcies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 22-39.
    14. Matei Demetrescu & Christoph Hanck, 2013. "Nonlinear IV panel unit root testing under structural breaks in the error variance," Statistical Papers, Springer, vol. 54(4), pages 1043-1066, November.
    15. Ambrose, Brent W. & Coulson, N. Edward & Yoshida, Jiro, 2017. "Inflation Rates Are Very Different When Housing Rents Are Accurately Measured," HIT-REFINED Working Paper Series 71, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    16. Smales, Lee A. & Apergis, Nick, 2016. "The influence of FOMC member characteristics on the monetary policy decision-making process," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 216-231.
    17. Valcarcel, Victor J., 2012. "The dynamic adjustments of stock prices to inflation disturbances," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 117-144.
    18. Selgin, George & Lastrapes, William D. & White, Lawrence H., 2012. "Has the Fed been a failure?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 569-596.
    19. Ludvigson, Sydney C., 2013. "Advances in Consumption-Based Asset Pricing: Empirical Tests," Handbook of the Economics of Finance, Elsevier.
    20. Valcarcel, Victor J. & Wohar, Mark E., 2013. "Changes in the oil price-inflation pass-through," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 24-42.

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