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Learning about informational rigidities from sectoral data and diffusion indices

  • Pierre-Daniel G. Sarte

This paper uses sectoral data to study survey-based diffusion indices designed to capture changes in the business cycle in real time. The empirical framework recognizes that when answering survey questions regarding their firm's output, respondents potentially rely on infrequently updated information. The analysis then suggests that their answers reflect considerable information lags, on the order of 16 months on average. Moreover, because information stickiness leads respondents to filter out noisy output fluctuations when answering surveys, it helps explain why diffusion indices successfully track business cycles and their consequent widespread use. Conversely, the analysis shows that in a world populated by fully informed identical firms, as in the standard RBC framework for example, diffusion indices would instead be degenerate. Finally, the data suggest that information regarding changes in aggregate output tends to be sectorally concentrated. The paper, therefore, is able to offer basic guidelines for the design of surveys used to construct diffusion indices.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in its series Working Paper with number 10-09.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:10-09
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  1. N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis, 2006. "Pervasive Stickiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 164-169, May.
  2. N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis, 2001. "Sticky Information Versus Sticky Prices: A Proposal to Replace the New Keynesian Phillips Curve," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1922, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Francois Gourio & Anil K Kashyap, 2007. "Investment Spikes: New Facts And A General Equilibrium Exploration," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2007-006, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  4. Dean Croushore, 2011. "Frontiers of Real-Time Data Analysis," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(1), pages 72-100, March.
  5. N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis, 2006. "Sticky Information in General Equilibrium," NBER Working Papers 12605, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Jeong, Jinook & Maddala, G S, 1996. "Testing the Rationality of Survey Data Using the Weighted Double-Bootstrapped Method of Moments," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(2), pages 296-302, May.
  7. Vasco M Carvalho, 2008. "Aggregate Fluctuations and the Network Structure of Intersectoral Trade," 2008 Meeting Papers 1062, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Andrew T. Foerster & Pierre-Daniel G. Sarte & Mark W. Watson, 2008. "Sectoral vs. Aggregate Shocks: A Structural Factor Analysis of Industrial Production," NBER Working Papers 14389, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. M. Hashem Pesaran & Martin Weale, 2005. "Survey Expectations," CESifo Working Paper Series 1599, CESifo Group Munich.
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  12. Ivaldi, Marc, 1992. "Survey Evidence on the Rationality of Expectations," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 7(3), pages 225-41, July-Sept.
  13. Christopher D Carroll, 2002. "Macroeconomic Expectations of Households and Professional Forecasters," Economics Working Paper Archive 477, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  14. Croushore, Dean & Stark, Tom, 2001. "A real-time data set for macroeconomists," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 111-130, November.
  15. N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis & Justin Wolfers, 2004. "Disagreement about Inflation Expectations," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2003, Volume 18, pages 209-270 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Carlson, John A & Parkin, J Michael, 1975. "Inflation Expectations," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 42(166), pages 123-38, May.
  17. Long, John B, Jr & Plosser, Charles I, 1983. "Real Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 39-69, February.
  18. Michael Horvath, 1998. "Cyclicality and Sectoral Linkages: Aggregate Fluctuations from Independent Sectoral Shocks," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(4), pages 781-808, October.
  19. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2012. "What Can Survey Forecasts Tell Us about Information Rigidities?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(1), pages 116 - 159.
  20. Horvath, Michael, 2000. "Sectoral shocks and aggregate fluctuations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 69-106, February.
  21. Dupor, Bill, 1999. "Aggregation and irrelevance in multi-sector models," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 391-409, April.
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