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A Comparison of Alternative Methodologies for Estimating Potential Output and the Output Gap

  • Chantal Dupasquier
  • Alain Guay
  • Pierre St-Amant

In this paper, the authors survey some of the recent techniques proposed in the literature to measure the trend component of output or potential output. Given the reported shortcomings of mechanical filters and univariate approaches to estimate potential output, the paper focusses on three simple multivariate methodologies: the multivariate Beveridge-Nelson methodology (MBN), Cochrane's methodology (CO), and the structural VAR methodology with long-run restrictions applied to output (LRRO). The foundation of these methodologies is first discussed and then applications to U.S. output and consumption data are considered. The LRRO estimates provide significant evidence of a diffusion process for shocks to potential output. This suggests that permanent shocks have more complex dynamics than a random walk, which is the basic assumption of the CO and MBN approaches. However, it is also found that the estimation of the output gap on the basis of an estimated VAR is imprecise, which is consistent with results obtained by Staiger, Stock and Watson (1996) with a different methodology. The spectra of the transitory components (output gaps) resulting from the empirical applications of the CO, MBN and LRRO methodologies differ from one another. Indeed, only the LRRO transitory component has a peak at business-cycle frequencies, i.e., cycles lasting between 6 and 32 quarters.

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Paper provided by Bank of Canada in its series Working Papers with number 97-5.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 1997
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bca:bocawp:97-5
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  2. Marianne Baxter & Robert G. King, 1995. "Measuring Business Cycles Approximate Band-Pass Filters for Economic Time Series," NBER Working Papers 5022, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Cochrane, John H, 1994. "Permanent and Transitory Components of GNP and Stock Prices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(1), pages 241-65, February.
  4. 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.
  5. Lippi, Marco & Reichlin, Lucrezia, 1993. "The Dynamic Effects of Aggregate Demand and Supply Disturbances: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 644-52, June.
  6. Matthew D. Shapiro & Mark W. Watson, 1988. "Sources of Business Cycle Fluctuations," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 870, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  7. King, Robert G. & Plosser, Charles I. & Rebelo, Sergio T., 1988. "Production, growth and business cycles : II. New directions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 309-341.
  8. Osborn, Denise R, 1995. "Moving Average Detrending and the Analysis of Business Cycles," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 57(4), pages 547-58, November.
  9. George Evans & Lucrezia Reichlin, 1994. "Information, forecasts and measurement of the business cycle," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/10155, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  10. Marco Lippi & Lucrezia Reichlin, 1994. "Diffusion of technical change and the decomposition of output into trend and cycle," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/10157, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  11. Cogley, Timothy & Nason, James M., 1995. "Effects of the Hodrick-Prescott filter on trend and difference stationary time series Implications for business cycle research," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 253-278.
  12. Robert G. King & Charles I. Plosser & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1987. "Stochastic Trends and Economic Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 2229, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Watson, Mark W., 1986. "Vector autoregressions and cointegration," Handbook of Econometrics, in: R. F. Engle & D. McFadden (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 47, pages 2843-2915 Elsevier.
  14. Robert J. Gordon, 1986. "The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gord86-1, August.
  15. Alain DeSerres & Alain Guay, 1995. "Selection of the Truncation Lag in Structural VARs (or VECMs) with Long-Run Restrictions," Econometrics 9510001, EconWPA.
  16. Watson, Mark W., 1986. "Univariate detrending methods with stochastic trends," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 49-75, July.
  17. Gamber, Edward N & Joutz, Frederick L, 1993. "The Dynamic Effects of Aggregate Demand and Supply Disturbances: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1387-93, December.
  18. Engle, Robert F & Granger, Clive W J, 1987. "Co-integration and Error Correction: Representation, Estimation, and Testing," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 251-76, March.
  19. Nelson, Charles R. & Plosser, Charles I., 1982. "Trends and random walks in macroeconmic time series : Some evidence and implications," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 139-162.
  20. Olivier J. Blanchard & Mark W. Watson, 1987. "Are Business Cycles All Alike?," NBER Working Papers 1392, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Simon van Norden, 1995. "Why Is It So Hard to Measure the Current Output Gap?," Macroeconomics 9506001, EconWPA.
  22. John Boschen & Leonard Mills, 1990. "Monetary policy with a new view of potential GNP," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Jul, pages 3-10.
  23. Kuttner, Kenneth N, 1994. "Estimating Potential Output as a Latent Variable," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 12(3), pages 361-68, July.
  24. Gali, Jordi, 1992. "How Well Does the IS-LM Model Fit Postwar U.S. Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 709-38, May.
  25. Danny Quah, 1988. "The Relative Importance of Permanent and Transitory Components: Identification and Some Theoretical Bounds," Working papers 498, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  26. Harvey, A C & Jaeger, A, 1993. "Detrending, Stylized Facts and the Business Cycle," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(3), pages 231-47, July-Sept.
  27. Christopher A. Sims, 1986. "Are forecasting models usable for policy analysis?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 2-16.
  28. Timothy Cogley, 1997. "Evaluating non-structural measures of the business cycle," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 3-21.
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