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Ultimate Sources of Aggregate Variability

  • Robert J. Shiller

What, ultimately, is different from quarter to quarter or year to year that accounts for the fact that macroeconomic variables change over these intervals? That is, which are the biggest ultimate sources, in terms we may say of tastes, technology, endowments, government policy, industrial organization, labor-management relations, speculative behavior, or the like, that change to cause this variability? There are a bewildering variety of claims in the literature for such ultimate sources. Far fewer efforts have been made to give a breakdown of the variance of macroeconomic aggregates by source. The two notable such breakdowns to date are by Bigou (1929) and Fair (1987). The nature of the evidence for such breakdowns is discussed here, and the possibility that a partial breakdown may be well-determined is put forward. An unsuccessful attempt is made to detect a component of macroeconomic fluctuations that is due to the weather.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2129.

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Date of creation: Jan 1987
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as American Economic Review, vol. 77, no. 2 pp. 87-92 May 1987
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2129
Note: EFG
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  1. Peter M. Garber & Robert G. King, 1983. "Deep Structral Excavation? A Critique of Euler Equation Methods," NBER Technical Working Papers 0031, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Ray C. Fair & Robert J. Shiller, 1987. "Econometric Modeling as Information Aggregation," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 833R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Jan 1988.
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