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Bayesian counterfactual analysis of the sources of the great moderation

  • Chang-Jin Kim

    (Deparment of Economics, Korea University, Seoul, Korea; Department of Economics, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA)

  • James Morley

    (Department of Economics, Washington University, St Louis, Missouri, USA)

  • Jeremy Piger

    (Department of Economics, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, USA)

We use counterfactual experiments to investigate the sources of the large volatility reduction in US real GDP growth in the 1980s. Contrary to an existing literature that conducts counterfactual experiments based on classical estimation and point estimates, we consider Bayesian analysis that provides a straightforward measure of estimation uncertainty for the counterfactual quantity of interest. Using Blanchard and Quah's (1989) structural VAR model of output growth and the unemployment rate, we find strong statistical support for the idea that a counterfactual change in the size of structural shocks alone, with no corresponding change in the propagation of these shocks, would have produced the same overall volatility reduction as what actually occurred. Looking deeper, we find evidence that a counterfactual change in the size of aggregate supply shocks alone would have generated a larger volatility reduction than a counterfactual change in the size of aggregate demand shocks alone. We show that these results are consistent with a standard monetary VAR, for which counterfactual analysis also suggests the importance of shocks in generating the volatility reduction, but with the counterfactual change in monetary shocks alone generating a small reduction in volatility. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of Applied Econometrics.

Volume (Year): 23 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 173-191

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Handle: RePEc:jae:japmet:v:23:y:2008:i:2:p:173-191
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  1. Chauvet, Marcelle & Potter, Simon, 2001. "Recent Changes in the US Business Cycle," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 69(5), pages 481-508, Special I.
  2. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Danny Quah, 1988. "The Dynamic Effects of Aggregate Demand and Supply Disturbances," NBER Working Papers 2737, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Chang-Jin Kim & Charles Nelson & Jeremy Piger, 2001. "The less volatile U.S. economy: a Bayesian investigation of timing, breadth, and potential explanations," International Finance Discussion Papers 707, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2003. "Has the Business Cycle Changed and Why?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2002, Volume 17, pages 159-230 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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