On the (Mis)Specification of Seasonality and Its Consequences: an Empirical Investigation with U.S. Data
It is well known that mis-specification of a trend leads to spurious cycles in detrended data (see, e.g., Nelson and Kang (1981). Seasonal-adjustment procedures make assumptions, either implicitly or explicitly, about roots on the unit circle both at the zero and seasonal frequencies. Consequently, seasonal-adjustment procedures may produce spurious seasonal variation and other statistically undesirable effects. In this paper we document, for a large class of widely used U.S. quarterly macroeconomic series, the effects of competing seasonal-adjustment procedures on the univariate time-series properties of the adjusted series. We also investigate which procedures are most appropriate given the properties of the data. Overall, we find very significant differences and evidence that several U.S. macroeconomic time series contain a mixture of deterministic and stochastic seasonal components.
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