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Do Mood Swings Drive Business Cycles and is it Rational?

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  • Paul Beaudry
  • Deokwoo Nam
  • Jian Wang

Abstract

This paper provides new evidence in support of the idea that bouts of optimism and pessimism drive much of US business cycles. In particular, we begin by using sign-restriction based identification schemes to isolate innovations in optimism or pessimism and we document the extent to which such episodes explain macroeconomic fluctuations. We then examine the link between these identified mood shocks and subsequent developments in fundamentals using alternative identification schemes (i.e., variants of the maximum forecast error variance approach). We find that there is a very close link between the two, suggesting that agents' feelings of optimism and pessimism are at least partially rational as total factor productivity (TFP) is observed to rise 8-10 quarters after an initial bout of optimism. While this later finding is consistent with some previous findings in the news shock literature, we cannot rule out that such episodes reflect self-fulfilling beliefs. Overall, we argue that mood swings account for over 50% of business cycle fluctuations in hours and output.

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  • Paul Beaudry & Deokwoo Nam & Jian Wang, 2011. "Do Mood Swings Drive Business Cycles and is it Rational?," NBER Working Papers 17651, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17651
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    1. Enders, Zeno & Müller, Gernot J. & Scholl, Almuth, 2011. "How do fiscal and technology shocks affect real exchange rates?: New evidence for the United States," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 53-69, January.
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    5. Deokwoo Nam & Jian Wang, 2010. "Understanding the effect of productivity changes on international relative prices: the role of news shocks," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 61, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    6. George A. Akerlof, 2009. "How Human Psychology Drives the Economy and Why It Matters," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1175-1175.
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    JEL classification:

    • E1 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models
    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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