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Evaluating the Costs of Business Cycles in Models of Endogenous Growth

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  • Gadi Barlevy

Abstract

In his famous monograph, Lucas (1987) put forth an argument that the welfare gains from reducing the volatility of aggregate consumption are negligible. Subsequent work that has revisited Lucas' calculation has continued to find only small benefits from reducing the volatility of consumption, further reinforcing the perception that business cycles don't matter. This paper argues instead that fluctuations could affect the growth process, which could have much larger effects than consumption volatility. I present an argument for why stabilization could increase growth without a reduction in current consumption, which could imply substantial welfare effects as Lucas (1987) already observed in his calculation. Empirical evidence and calibration exercises suggest that the welfare effects can be quite substantial, possibly as much as two orders of magnitude greater than Lucas' original estimates.

Suggested Citation

  • Gadi Barlevy, 2000. "Evaluating the Costs of Business Cycles in Models of Endogenous Growth," Discussion Papers 1287, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1287
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1992. "A Model of Growth through Creative Destruction," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(2), pages 323-351, March.
    2. Aizenman, Joshua & Marion, Nancy P, 1993. "Policy Uncertainty, Persistence and Growth," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(2), pages 145-163, June.
    3. Andrew Atkeson & Christopher Phelan, 1994. "Reconsidering the Costs of Business Cycles with Incomplete Markets," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1994, Volume 9, pages 187-218 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Fernando Alvarez & Urban J. Jermann, 2004. "Using Asset Prices to Measure the Cost of Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1223-1256, December.
    5. Aghion, Philippe & Saint-Paul, Gilles, 1998. "VIRTUES OF BAD TIMES Interaction Between Productivity Growth and Economic Fluctuations," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(03), pages 322-344, September.
    6. Abel, Andrew B, 1983. "Optimal Investment under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 228-233, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Anne Epaulard & Aude Pommeret, 2003. "Recursive Utility, Endogenous Growth, and the Welfare Cost of Volatility," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(3), pages 672-684, July.
    2. Tom Krebs, 2002. "Growth & Welfare Effects of Business Cycles In Economies with Idiosyncratic Human Capital Risk," Working Papers 2002-31, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    3. Jordi Galí & Mark Gertler & J. David López-Salido, 2007. "Markups, Gaps, and the Welfare Costs of Business Fluctuations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 44-59, November.
    4. Satyajit Chatterjee & Dean Corbae, 2000. "On the welfare gains of reducing the likelihood of economic crises," Working Paper 0015, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    5. Stephen Turnovsky & Marcelo Bianconi, "undated". "The Welfare Gains from Stabilization in a Stochastically Growing Economy with Idiosyncratic Shocks and Flexible Labor Supply," Working Papers UWEC-2004-08-P, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
    6. Stephane Pallage & Michel Robe, 2000. "Magnitude X on the Richter Scale: Welfare Cost of Business Cycles in Developing Countries," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 124, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
    7. Satyajit Chatterjee & Dean Corbae, 2003. "On the welfare gains of eliminating a small likelihood of economic crises: A case for stabilization policies?," Working Papers 03-20, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

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