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Risk and Macroeconomic Activity


  • James Peery Cover

    () (Department of Economics, Finance and Legal Studies, University of Alabama, P.O. Box 870224, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0224, USA


This article explores the macroeconomic role that risk plays using the BAA-AAA spread as the measure of risk. First, it shows that meaningful upward movements in this spread are associated with recessions and their severity. Second, it includes the BAA-AAA spread in a structural vector-autoregression (VAR) to identify a shock-to-risk and finds that it causes a statistically significant and economically important decrease in output as well as increased holdings of real-money balances. Third, it uses historical decompositions to show that the shock-to-risk explains an important part of the declines in output during four post-1970 recessions. Notably, the shock-to-risk explains almost none of the decline in output during 2001 prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks but does clarify why the recovery was relatively weak afterwards, and it explains the bulk of the decline in output during 2008 and 2009.

Suggested Citation

  • James Peery Cover, 2011. "Risk and Macroeconomic Activity," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 149-166, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:78:1:y:2011:p:149-166

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    Cited by:

    1. Mallick, Sushanta K. & Sousa, Ricardo M., 2013. "The real effects of financial stress in the Eurozone," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 1-17.
    2. Vladimir Arčabić & James Peery Cover, 2016. "Uncertainty and the effectiveness of fiscal policy," EFZG Working Papers Series 1611, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb.
    3. Sushanta K Mallick & Madhusudan Mohanty & Fabrizio Zampolli, 2017. "Market volatility, monetary policy and the term premium," BIS Working Papers 606, Bank for International Settlements.

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    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy


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