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Why Are Beveridge-Nelson and Unobserved-Component Decompositions of GDP So Different?

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  • James C. Morley
  • Charles Nelson
  • Eric Zivot

Abstract

Two widely used methods of decomposing GDP into trend and cycle yield starkly different results. The unobserved component approach implies smooth trend with large, persistent cycle. In contrast, the Beveridge and Nelson (1981) approach implies most of the variation is attributable to trend. This conflict has been widely noted. It should surprise us that the two approaches produce very different trend-cycle decompositions since both are model-based. This paper attempts to find out why we do not, after decades of research, have a consistent picture of how variation in a series like real GDP should be allocated between trend and cycle.
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Suggested Citation

  • James C. Morley & Charles Nelson & Eric Zivot, 2000. "Why Are Beveridge-Nelson and Unobserved-Component Decompositions of GDP So Different?," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 0013, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:washer:0013
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Quah, Danny, 1989. "The Dynamic Effects of Aggregate Demand and Supply Disturbances," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 655-673, September.
    2. Beveridge, Stephen & Nelson, Charles R., 1981. "A new approach to decomposition of economic time series into permanent and transitory components with particular attention to measurement of the `business cycle'," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 151-174.
    3. 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 269-277, July.
    4. Kim, Chang-Jin & Nelson, Charles R, 1999. "Friedman's Plucking Model of Business Fluctuations: Tests and Estimates of Permanent and Transitory Components," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 31(3), pages 317-334, August.
    5. Beaudry, Paul & Koop, Gary, 1993. "Do recessions permanently change output?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 149-163, April.
    6. Sichel, Daniel E, 1993. "Business Cycle Asymmetry: A Deeper Look," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(2), pages 224-236, April.
    7. Harvey, A C, 1985. "Trends and Cycles in Macroeconomic Time Series," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(3), pages 216-227, June.
    8. Peter K. Clark, 1987. "The Cyclical Component of U. S. Economic Activity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(4), pages 797-814.
    9. Cochrane, John H, 1988. "How Big Is the Random Walk in GNP?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(5), pages 893-920, October.
    10. 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 307-328, April.
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