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The HP-Filter in Cross-Country Comparisons

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  • Marcet, Albert
  • Ravn, Morten O

Abstract

Many empirical studies have applied the Hodrick-Prescott filter in cross-country comparisons of business cycle fluctuations. The Hodrick-Prescott filter involves the smoothing parameter l, and standard practice in the literature is to set this parameter equal to 1600 (in quarterly data) for all countries. We show that this choice might distort the results when the cyclical component is highly serially correlated, and that care should be taken in checking if the results are unreasonable in the light of common wisdom. For example, for Spanish data we show that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the results imply that the Spanish cycle is very smooth and that the period of 1975-85 was one of macroeconomic tranquility. We propose to recast the HP-filter as a constrained minimization problem, which selects endogenously a value of l that imposes cross-country consistency of the imposed constraint. Our proposed method is easy to apply and retains all the virtues of the standard HP-filter. When applied to Spanish data, the results imply a return to conventional wisdom and we find results in line with economic historian’s views. We also examine data for a number of OECD countries and find that, with the exception of Spain, Italy and Japan, the standard choice of l = 1600 is sensible.

Suggested Citation

  • Marcet, Albert & Ravn, Morten O, 2004. "The HP-Filter in Cross-Country Comparisons," CEPR Discussion Papers 4244, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4244
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Danthine, Jean-Pierre & Girardin, Michel, 1989. "Business cycles in Switzerland : A comparative study," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 31-50, January.
    2. Ambler, Steve & Cardia, Emanuela & Zimmermann, Christian, 2004. "International business cycles: What are the facts?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 257-276, March.
    3. Marianne Baxter & Robert G. King, 1999. "Measuring Business Cycles: Approximate Band-Pass Filters For Economic Time Series," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 575-593, November.
    4. Luis A. Puch & Omar Licandro, 1997. "Are there any special features in the Spanish business cycle?," Investigaciones Economicas, Fundación SEPI, vol. 21(2), pages 361-394, May.
    5. Uhlig, H.F.H.V.S. & Ravn, M., 1997. "On Adjusting the H-P Filter for the Frequency of Observations," Discussion Paper 1997-50, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    6. Backus, David K & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1992. "International Evidence of the Historical Properties of Business Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 864-888, September.
    7. Backus, David K & Kehoe, Patrick J & Kydland, Finn E, 1992. "International Real Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 745-775, August.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    business cycles; cross-country comparisons; macroeconomic volatility;

    JEL classification:

    • C32 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes; State Space Models
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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