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Sources of Business Cycle Fluctuations

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  • Matthew D. Shapiro
  • Mark W. Watson

Abstract

What shocks account for the business cycle frequency and long run movements of output and prices? This paper addresses this question using the identifying assumption that only supply shocks, such as shocks to technology, oil prices, and labor supply affect output in the long run. Real and monetary aggregate demand shocks can affect output, but only in the short run. This assumption sufficiently restricts the reduced form of key macroeconomic variables to allow estimation of the shocks and their effect on output and price at all frequencies. Aggregate demand shocks account for about twenty to thirty percent of output fluctuations at business cycle frequencies. Technological shocks account for about one-quarter of cyclical fluctuations, and about one-third of output's variance at low frequencies. Shocks to oil prices are important in explaining episodes in the 1970's and 1980's. Shocks that permanently affect labor input account for the balance of fluctuations in output, namely, about half of its variance at all frequencies.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew D. Shapiro & Mark W. Watson, 1988. "Sources of Business Cycle Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 2589, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2589
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    1. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Quah, Danny, 1989. "The Dynamic Effects of Aggregate Demand and Supply Disturbances," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 655-673, September.
    2. Quah, Danny, 1992. "The Relative Importance of Permanent and Transitory Components: Identification and Some Theoretical Bounds," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(1), pages 107-118, January.
    3. Long, John B, Jr & Plosser, Charles I, 1983. "Real Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 39-69, February.
    4. Beveridge, Stephen & Nelson, Charles R., 1981. "A new approach to decomposition of economic time series into permanent and transitory components with particular attention to measurement of the `business cycle'," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 151-174.
    5. Peter K. Clark, 1987. "The Cyclical Component of U. S. Economic Activity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(4), pages 797-814.
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