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The U.S. Business Cycle, 1867-1995: Dynamic Factor Analysis vs. Reconstructed National Accounts

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  • Albrecht Ritschl
  • Samad Sarferaz
  • Martin Uebele

Abstract

This paper presents insights on U.S. business cycle volatility since 1867 de- rived from diffusion indices. We employ a Bayesian dynamic factor model to obtain aggregate and sectoral economic activity indices. We find a remarkable increase in volatility across World War I, which is reversed after World War II. While we can generate evidence of postwar moderation relative to pre-1914, this evidence is not robust to structural change, implemented by time-varying factor loadings. We do find evidence of moderation in the nominal series, however, and reproduce the standard result of moderation since the 1980s. Our estimates broadly confirm the NBER historical business cycle chronology as well the National Income and Product Accounts, except for World War II where they support alternative estimates of Kuznets (1952).

Suggested Citation

  • Albrecht Ritschl & Samad Sarferaz & Martin Uebele, 2008. "The U.S. Business Cycle, 1867-1995: Dynamic Factor Analysis vs. Reconstructed National Accounts," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2008-066, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:hum:wpaper:sfb649dp2008-066
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert J. Gordon, 1986. "The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gord86-1, April.
    2. Joseph H. Davis & Christopher Hanes & Paul W. Rhode, 2009. "Harvests and Business Cycles in Nineteenth-Century America," NBER Working Papers 14686, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Domenico Giannone & Michele Lenza & Lucrezia Reichlin, 2008. "Explaining The Great Moderation: It Is Not The Shocks," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 621-633, 04-05.
    4. Uhlig, H.F.H.V.S. & Ravn, M., 1997. "On Adjusting the H-P Filter for the Frequency of Observations," Discussion Paper 1997-50, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    5. Luca Gambetti & Jordi Galí, 2009. "On the Sources of the Great Moderation," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 26-57, January.
    6. John W. Kendrick, 1961. "Productivity Trends in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend61-1, April.
    7. Otrok, Christopher & Whiteman, Charles H, 1998. "Bayesian Leading Indicators: Measuring and Predicting Economic Conditions in Iowa," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(4), pages 997-1014, November.
    8. Simon Kuznets & Lillian Epstein & Elizabeth Jenks, 1946. "National Income and Its Composition, 1919-1938, Volume II," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn41-3, January.
    9. Joseph H. Davis & Christopher Hanes & Paul W. Rhode, 2009. "Harvests and Business Cycles in Nineteenth-Century America," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1675-1727.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stefan Oliver Houpt & Juan Carlos Rojo Cagigal, 2014. "Relative deprivation and labour conflict during Spain’s industrialization: the Bilbao estuary, 1914–1936," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 8(3), pages 335-369, September.
    2. Matthias Morys & Martin Ivanov, 2013. "The emergence of a European region: Business cycles in South-East Europe from political independence to World War II," Centre for Historical Economics and Related Research at York (CHERRY) Discussion Papers 13/01, CHERRY, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    3. Matthias Morys & Martin Ivanov, 2009. "Common factors in South-East Europe’s business cycles 1899 - 1989," SEEMHN papers 1, National Bank of Serbia.
    4. Selgin, George & Lastrapes, William D. & White, Lawrence H., 2012. "Has the Fed been a failure?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 569-596.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    U.S. business cycle; volatility; dynamic factor analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • N11 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • C43 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Index Numbers and Aggregation
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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