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Learning And The Great Moderation

  • James Bullard
  • Aarti Singh

We study a stylized theory of the volatility reduction in the U.S. after 1984 - the Great Moderation - which attributes part of the stabilization to less volatile shocks and another part to more difficult inference on the part of Bayesian households attempting to learn the latent state of the economy. We use a standard equilibrium business cycle model with technology following an unobserved regime-switching process. After 1984, according to Kim and Nelson (1999a), the variance of U.S. macroeconomic aggregates declined because boom and recession regimes moved closer together, keeping conditional variance unchanged. In our model this makes the signal extraction problem more difficult for Bayesian households, and in response they moderate their behavior, reinforcing the effect of the less volatile stochastic technology and contributing an extra measure of moderation to the economy. We construct example economies in which this learning effect accounts for about 30 percent of a volatility reduction of the magnitude observed in the postwar U.S. data.

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Article provided by Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association in its journal International Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 53 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (05)
Pages: 375-397

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Handle: RePEc:wly:iecrev:v:53:y:2012:i:2:p:375-397
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  1. S. Boragan Aruoba & Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde & Juan Francisco Rubio-Ramirez, 2003. "Comparing solution methods for dynamic equilibrium economies," Working Paper 2003-27, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
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