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What's a Recession, Anyway?

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  • Edward E. Leamer

Abstract

Monthly US data on payroll employment, civilian employment, industrial production and the unemployment rate are used to define a recession-dating algorithm that nearly perfectly reproduces the NBER official peak and trough dates. The only substantial point of disagreement is with respect to the NBER November 1973 peak. The algorithm prefers September 1974. In addition, this algorithm indicates that the data through June 2008 do not yet exceed the recession threshold, and will do so only if things get much worse.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward E. Leamer, 2008. "What's a Recession, Anyway?," NBER Working Papers 14221, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14221 Note: EFG
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14221.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Don Harding & Adrian Pagan, 2006. "Measurement of Business Cycles," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 966, The University of Melbourne.
    2. Harding, Don & Pagan, Adrian, 2003. "A comparison of two business cycle dating methods," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 27(9), pages 1681-1690, July.
    3. Hamilton, James D, 1989. "A New Approach to the Economic Analysis of Nonstationary Time Series and the Business Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 357-384, March.
    4. Durland, J Michael & McCurdy, Thomas H, 1994. "Duration-Dependent Transitions in a Markov Model of U.S. GNP Growth," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 12(3), pages 279-288, July.
    5. Harding, Don & Pagan, Adrian, 2006. "Synchronization of cycles," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 132(1), pages 59-79, May.
    6. Marcelle Chauvet & James D. Hamilton, 2005. "Dating Business Cycle Turning Points," NBER Working Papers 11422, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Switzer, Lorne N., 2010. "The behaviour of small cap vs. large cap stocks in recessions and recoveries: Empirical evidence for the United States and Canada," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 332-346, December.
    2. Lee, Kevin & Shields, Kalvinder K., 2011. "Decision-making in hard times: What is a recession, why do we care and how do we know when we are in one?," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 43-60, January.
    3. Viviana Alejandra Alfonso & Luis Eduardo Arango Thomas & Fernando Arias & José David Pulido, 2011. "Ciclos de negocios en Colombia: 1980-2010," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 008328, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
    4. Philip Cross & Philippe Bergevin, 2012. "Turning Points: Business Cycles in Canada Since 1926," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 366, October.
    5. James D. Hamilton, 2009. "Causes and Consequences of the Oil Shock of 2007-08," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 40(1 (Spring), pages 215-283.
    6. Hamilton, James D., 2011. "Calling recessions in real time," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 1006-1026, October.
    7. Sergey Smirnov, 2011. "Those Unpredictable Recessions," HSE Working papers WP BRP 02/EC/2011, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    8. Antipa, P. & Schalck, C., 2009. "Impact of Fiscal Policy on Residential Investment in France," Working papers 270, Banque de France.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E37 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications

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