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The Welfare Costs of Business Cycles Unveiled: Measuring the Extent of Stabilization Policies

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Abstract

How can we measure the welfare benefit of ongoing stabilization policies? We develop a methodology to calculate the welfare cost of business cycles taking into account that observed consumption is partially smoothed. We propose a decomposition that disentangles consumption in a mix of laissez-faire (absent policies) and riskless components. With a novel identification strategy, we estimate the span of stabilization power. Our results show that the welfare cost of total fluctuations is 11 percent of lifetime consumption, of which 82 percent is smoothed by the status quo policies, yielding a residual 1.8 percent of consumption to be tackled by policymakers.

Suggested Citation

  • Fernando Barros & Fabio Gomes & Andre Luduvice, 2021. "The Welfare Costs of Business Cycles Unveiled: Measuring the Extent of Stabilization Policies," Working Papers 21-14r, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, revised 21 Apr 2022.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcwq:92917
    DOI: 10.26509/frbc-wp-202114r
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    business cycles; consumption; stabilization; macroeconomic history;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E63 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative

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