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The Boom and the Slump: a Causal Account of the 1990s/2000s and the 1920s/1930s


  • Edmund Phelps


Not all booms are alike, nor are slumps. The institutions and the shocks are never exactly the same. Yet the late 1990s boom, and its unwinding, strikingly parallel the boom of the roaring 1920s, the deep decline into the early 1930s andonly a partial rebound. Both experiences began with an investment boom, then a downturn in investment while consumption held up. Economic activity closely tracked investment. The realizations of extraordinary productivity gains were present in the problematic and incomplete recovery of the 1930s, which suggests the possibility that return to the medium-term natural rate of unemployment may be a rather long process. I expect the rest of the decade to resemble the rest of the 1930s - a limited recovery with investment and employment below historical norms.

Suggested Citation

  • Edmund Phelps, 2004. "The Boom and the Slump: a Causal Account of the 1990s/2000s and the 1920s/1930s," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(1), pages 3-19.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jpolrf:v:7:y:2004:i:1:p:3-19
    DOI: 10.1080/1384128042000219690

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    More about this item


    Boom; Slump; Natural rate of unemployment; Expansion; Contraction; Rational booms; Productivity gains; JEL Code: E3;

    JEL classification:

    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles


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