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Business Cycles Analysis and Expectational Survey Data

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  • Victor Zarnowitz

Abstract

What is the role of foresight, and the significance of the lack of foresight under uncertainty, in the theory of business cycles ? What relevant evidence on these questions can be extracted from the survey data on agents' expectations and experts' forecasts? To provide some answers, the recent work in this area is reviewed in the perspective of economic and doctrinal history. The address proceeds from (1) a discussion of the expectational aspects of modern business cycles theories and (2) a critique of the currently dominant approaches to (3) a summary of the evidence and (4) some illustrations and implications for further analysis. Of the conclusions drawn,perhaps the most general one is that expectations matter a great deal but are not all-important. They may be rational in the sense of effectively using the limited available knowledge and information, but they are also diversified and not always self-validating or stabilizing.

Suggested Citation

  • Victor Zarnowitz, 1984. "Business Cycles Analysis and Expectational Survey Data," NBER Working Papers 1378, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1378
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    Cited by:

    1. Hugo Benítez-Silva & Debra Dwyer & Wayne-Roy Gayle & Thomas Muench, 2008. "Expectations in micro data: rationality revisited," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 381-416, March.
    2. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1990. "How Do the Elderly Form Expectations? An Analysis of Responses to New Information," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in the Economics of Aging, pages 259-286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Feng Gao & Fengming Song & Jun Wang, 2009. "Rational or irrational expectations? Evidence from China's stock market," Journal of Risk Finance, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 10(5), pages 432-448, November.
    4. Robert W. Rich & Joseph Tracy, 2003. "Modeling uncertainty: predictive accuracy as a proxy for predictive confidence," Staff Reports 161, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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