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Asymmetric persistence in GDP? A deeper look at depth

  • Gregory D. Hess
  • Shigeru Iwata

If economic time series behave asymmetrically, then an interpretation of economic fluctuations based on linear time series models could be misleading. Beaudry and Koop (1993) recently argued that for post war U.S. GDP data there exists a statistically significant difference in persistence between negative and positive shocks. Their finding, if true, would be quite interesting since it would bring a new perspective to the literature on business cycle, which has been dominated by two conflicting views: the trend-reverting view of Blanchard (1981) and the permanent view of Campbell and Mankiw (1987). The purpose of this paper is to reexamine the evidence of asymmetric persistence of GDP by analyzing the statistical properties of BK's test. In particular, we show there are two pitfalls for this test: First, the t-statistic for testing asymmetry in persistence does not have a conventional interpretation. Second, a highly significant t-value may come from sources different from asymmetry. Using international data, we also explore the robustness of the BK result across the G-7 countries and find that the evidence is quite varied. Moreover, there appears to be no simple explanation for why countries display similar types of asymmetric behavior.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in its series Research Working Paper with number 97-02.

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Date of creation: 1997
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedkrw:97-02
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  1. Campbell, John & Mankiw, Gregory, 1987. "Are Output Fluctuations Transitory?," Scholarly Articles 3122545, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Sichel, Daniel E, 1994. "Inventories and the Three Phases of the Business Cycle," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 12(3), pages 269-77, July.
  3. Hess, Gregory D & Iwata, Shigeru, 1997. "Measuring and Comparing Business-Cycle Features," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 15(4), pages 432-44, October.
  4. Daniel E. Sichel, 1989. "Business cycle asymmetry: a deeper look," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 93, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Phillips, P C B, 1987. "Time Series Regression with a Unit Root," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 277-301, March.
  6. Neftci, Salih N, 1984. "Are Economic Time Series Asymmetric over the Business Cycle?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(2), pages 307-28, April.
  7. Perron, P, 1988. "The Great Crash, The Oil Price Shock And The Unit Root Hypothesis," Papers 338, Princeton, Department of Economics - Econometric Research Program.
  8. Adrian Pagan, 1997. "Towards an Understanding of Some Business Cycle Characteristics," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 30(1), pages 1-15.
  9. Sergio T. Rebelo, 1990. "Long Run Policy Analysis and Long Run Growth," NBER Working Papers 3325, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Peter C.B. Phillips & Joon Y. Park, 1986. "Statistical Inference in Regressions with Integrated Processes: Part 1," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 811R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Aug 1987.
  11. Beaudry, Paul & Koop, Gary, 1993. "Do recessions permanently change output?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 149-163, April.
  12. J. Bradford De Long & Lawrence H. Summers, 1984. "Are Business Cycles Symmetric?," NBER Working Papers 1444, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Goodwin, Thomas H & Sweeney, Richard J, 1993. "International Evidence on Friedman's Theory of the Business Cycle," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(2), pages 178-93, April.
  14. West, Kenneth D, 1988. "Asymptotic Normality, When Regressors Have a Unit Root," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(6), pages 1397-1417, November.
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