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Are Business Cycles Symmetric?

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  • J. Bradford De Long
  • Lawrence H. Summers

Abstract

This note shows that contrary to widespread belief there is little evidence that the business cycle is asymmetric. Using American data for the pre- and post-war periods and data on five other major OECD nations for the post-war period, we are unable to support the hypothesis that contractions are shorter and sharper than expansions. We conclude that there is not much basis for preferring some version of traditional cyclical techniques to more modern statistical methods.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Bradford De Long & Lawrence H. Summers, 1984. "Are Business Cycles Symmetric?," NBER Working Papers 1444, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1444
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    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. Wesley Clair Mitchell, 1927. "Business Cycles: The Problem and Its Setting," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number mitc27-1, April.
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