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Have postwar economic fluctuations been stabilized?

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  • Francis X. Diebold
  • Glenn D. Rudebusch

Abstract

Previous investigations of whether the volatility of the U.S. economy diminished after World War II have been inconclusive because of questionable prewar macroeconomic aggregates. We examine, more broadly, the hypothesis of the stabilization of the postwar economy by focusing on the duration of business cycles, rather than their amplitude; in the process, we avoid the debate about the quality of prewar aggregates. Using distribution-free statistics, we find clear evidence of postwar duration stabilization in terms of a shift toward longer expansions and shorter contractions. Moreover, we find no shift in whole-cycle durations, which suggests a reallocation of the business cycle away from contraction and toward expansion.

Suggested Citation

  • Francis X. Diebold & Glenn D. Rudebusch, 1990. "Have postwar economic fluctuations been stabilized?," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 33, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmem:33
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Meyer, Bruce D, 1990. "Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Spells," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(4), pages 757-782, July.
    2. J. Bradford DeLong & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "The Changing Cyclical Variability of Economic Activity in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, pages 679-734, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Robert J. Gordon & Arthur M. Okun & Herbert Stein, 1980. "Postwar Macroeconomics: The Evolution of Events and Ideas," NBER Chapters, in: The American Economy in Transition, pages 101-182, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Diebold, Francis X & Rudebusch, Glenn D, 1990. "A Nonparametric Investigation of Duration Dependence in the American Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 596-616, June.
    5. Hamilton, James D, 1989. "A New Approach to the Economic Analysis of Nonstationary Time Series and the Business Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 357-384, March.
    6. Hall, Robert E., 1976. "The Phillips curve and macroeconomic policy," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 127-148, January.
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    Keywords

    Business cycles; Economic stabilization;

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