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Political Parties and the Business Cycle in the United States, 1948-1984

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  • Alberto Alesina
  • Jeffrey Sachs

Abstract

This paper tests the existence and the extent of a politically induced business cycle in the U.S. in the post-World War II period. The cycle described in this paper is different from the traditional "political business cycle" of Nordhaus. It is based on a systematic difference between the monetary policies of the two parties in a model with labor contracts. From an explicit optimization problem we derive a system of equations for output and money growth. Then we successfully test the non-linear restriction imposed by the theory on the parameters of the system of equations. We cannot reject the hypothesis that money growth has been systematically different under the two types of administration and that this difference contributes to explain output fluctuations.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Alesina & Jeffrey Sachs, 1986. "Political Parties and the Business Cycle in the United States, 1948-1984," NBER Working Papers 1940, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1940
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Taylor, John B, 1980. "Aggregate Dynamics and Staggered Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(1), pages 1-23, February.
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    6. Abrams, Richard K & Froyen, Richard & Waud, Roger N, 1980. "Monetary Policy Reaction Functions, Consistent Expectations, and the Burns Era," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 12(1), pages 30-42, February.
    7. Alberto Alesina, 1987. "Macroeconomic Policy in a Two-Party System as a Repeated Game," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(3), pages 651-678.
    8. Barro, Robert J, 1978. "Unanticipated Money, Output, and the Price Level in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(4), pages 549-580, August.
    9. Allen, Stuart D, 1986. "The Federal Reserve and the Electoral Cycle: A Note," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 18(1), pages 88-94, February.
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    11. Chappell, Henry W, Jr & Keech, William R, 1986. "Party Differences in Macroeconomic Policies and Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 71-74, May.
    12. William D. Nordhaus, 1975. "The Political Business Cycle," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 169-190.
    13. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-491, June.
    14. Fischer, Stanley, 1977. "Long-Term Contracts, Rational Expectations, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 191-205, February.
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