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An Improved Annual Chronology of U.S. Business Cycles since the 1790's

  • Joseph H. Davis
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    The NBER's pre-WWI chronology of annual peaks and troughs has the remarkable implication that the U.S. economy spent nearly every other year in recession, although previous research has argued that the post-Civil War dates are flawed. This paper extends that research by redating annual peaks and troughs for the entire 1796-1914 period using a single metric: Davis' (2004) annual industrial production index. The new pre-WWI chronology alters more than 40% of the peak and troughs, and removes cycles long considered the most questionable. An important implication of the new chronology is the lack of discernible differences in the frequency and duration of industrial cycles among the pre-Civil War, Civil War to WWI, and post-WWII periods. Of course, my comparison between pre-WWI and post-WWII cycles is limited by its reliance on a single annual index (as opposed to many monthly series) that is less comprehensive than GDP.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w11157.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11157.

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    Date of creation: Feb 2005
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    Publication status: published as Davis, Joseph H. "An Improved Annual Chronology Of US Business Cycles Since The 1790s," Journal of Economic History, 2006, v66(1,Mar), 103-121.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11157
    Note: DAE
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    1. Paul A. Samuelson, 1998. "Summing up on business cycles: opening address," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 42(Jun), pages 33-36.
    2. Arthur F. Burns & Wesley C. Mitchell, 1946. "Measuring Business Cycles," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number burn46-1, October.
    3. Willard Long Thorp, 1926. "Business Annals," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number thor26-1, October.
    4. Paul W. Rhode, 2002. "Gallman's Annual Output Series for the United States, 1834-1909," NBER Working Papers 8860, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Diebold, Francis X & Rudebusch, Glenn D, 1992. "Have Postwar Economic Fluctuations Been Stabilized?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 993-1005, September.
    6. Frederic S. Mishkin, 1991. "Asymmetric Information and Financial Crises: A Historical Perspective," NBER Chapters, in: Financial Markets and Financial Crises, pages 69-108 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Romer, Christina D., 1994. "Remeasuring Business Cycles," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(03), pages 573-609, September.
    8. Balke, Nathan S & Gordon, Robert J, 1989. "The Estimation of Prewar Gross National Product: Methodology and New Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(1), pages 38-92, February.
    9. Douglas A. Irwin & Joseph H. Davis, 2003. "Trade Disruptions and America's Early Industrialization," NBER Working Papers 9944, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Jeffrey C. Fuhrer & Scott Schuh, 1998. "Beyond shocks: what causes business cycles?," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 42(Jun).
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