IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Are Business Cycles All Alike?


  • Olivier J. Blanchard
  • Mark W. Watson


This paper examines two questions. The first is whether economic fluctuations-business cycles-are due to an accumulation of nall shocks or instead mostly to infrequent large shocks. The paper concludes that neither of these two extreme views accurately characterize fluctuations. The second question is whether fluctuations are due mostly to one source of shocks, for example monetary, or instead to many sources. The paper concludes that evidence strongly supports the hypothesis of many, about equally important, sources of shocks.To analyze the empirical evidence and to reach these conclusions, the paper uses two different statistical approaches. The first is estimation ofa structural model, using a set of just identifying restrictions. The secondis non-structural and may be described as a formalization of the Burns Mitchell techniques. Both approaches are somewhat novel and should be of independent interest.

Suggested Citation

  • Olivier J. Blanchard & Mark W. Watson, 1984. "Are Business Cycles All Alike?," NBER Working Papers 1392, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1392
    Note: EFG

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fair, Ray C, 1985. "Excess Labor and the Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 239-245, March.
    2. Robert J. Gordon, 1979. "The "End-of-Expansion" Phenomenon in Short-Run Productivity Behavior," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 10(2), pages 447-462.
    3. Arthur F. Burns & Wesley C. Mitchell, 1946. "Measuring Business Cycles," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number burn46-1, January.
    4. Fumio Hayashi, 1979. "The Permanent Income Hypothesis: Estimation and Testing," Discussion Papers 484, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    5. Wesley Clair Mitchell, 1927. "Business Cycles: The Problem and Its Setting," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number mitc27-1, January.
    6. Blanchard, Olivier J, 1985. "Debt, Deficits, and Finite Horizons," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(2), pages 223-247, April.
    7. Stanley Fischer, 1980. "Rational Expectations and Economic Policy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number fisc80-1, January.
    8. Brunner, Karl & Meltzer, Allan H., 1978. "The problem of inflation," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 1-15, January.
    9. 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.
    10. Nelson, Charles R. & Plosser, Charles I., 1982. "Trends and random walks in macroeconmic time series : Some evidence and implications," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 139-162.
    11. Hayashi, Fumio, 1982. "The Permanent Income Hypothesis: Estimation and Testing by Instrumental Variables," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(5), pages 895-916, October.
    12. Wesley Clair Mitchell, 1927. "Introductory pages to "Business Cycles: The Problem and Its Setting"," NBER Chapters,in: Business Cycles: The Problem and Its Setting, pages -23 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Engle, Robert F, 1982. "Autoregressive Conditional Heteroscedasticity with Estimates of the Variance of United Kingdom Inflation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 987-1007, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1392. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.