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Why have business cycle fluctuations become less volatile?

  • Lee Ohanian
  • Andres Arias
  • Gary Hansen

    ()

    (Department of Economics UCLA)

This paper shows that a standard Real Business Cycle model driven by productivity shocks can successfully account for the 50 percent decline in cyclical volatility of output and its components, and labor input that has occurred since 1983. The model is successful because the volatility of productivity shocks has also declined significantly over the same time period. We then investigate whether the decline in the volatility of the Solow Residual is due to changes in the volatility of some other shock operating through a channel that is absent in the standard model. We therefore develop a model with variable capacity and labor utilization. We investigate whether government spending shocks, shocks that affect the household's first order condition for labor, and shocks that affect the household's first order condition for saving can plausibly account for the change in TFP volatility and in the volatility of output, its components, and labor. We find that none of these shocks are able to do this. This suggests that successfully accounting for the post-1983 decline in business cycle volatility requires a change in the volatility of a productivity-like shock operating within a standard growth model.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2005 Meeting Papers with number 927.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed005:927
Contact details of provider: Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Christian Zimmermann Economic Research Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis PO Box 442 St. Louis MO 63166-0442 USA
Fax: 1-314-444-8731
Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/society.htm
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  1. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum, 1990. "Current real business cycle theories and aggregate labor market fluctuations," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 90, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  2. Sylvain Leduc & Keith Sill, 2007. "Monetary Policy, Oil Shocks, and TFP: Accounting for the Decline in U.S. Volatility," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 10(4), pages 595-614, October.
  3. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi & Huffman, Gregory W, 1988. "Investment, Capacity Utilization, and the Real Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 402-17, June.
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  5. Susanto Basu, 1995. "Procyclical Productivity: Increasing Returns or Cyclical Utilization?," NBER Working Papers 5336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  15. Dirk Kreuger & Fabrizio Perri, 2002. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality? Evidence and Theory," Working Papers 02-15, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
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  17. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2002. "Has the Business Cycle Changed and Why?," NBER Working Papers 9127, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Diego A. Comin & Thomas Philippon, 2006. "The Rise in Firm-Level Volatility: Causes and Consequences," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2005, Volume 20, pages 167-228 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Zvi Hercowitz & Jeffrey C. Campbell, 2005. "The Role of Collateralized Household Debt in Macroeconomic Stabilization," 2005 Meeting Papers 120, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  20. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2002. "The U.S. and U.K. Great Depressions Through the Lens of Neoclassical Growth Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 28-32, May.
  21. Olivier Blanchard & John Simon, 2001. "The Long and Large Decline in U.S. Output Volatility," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(1), pages 135-174.
  22. Chang-Jin Kim & Charles R. Nelson, 1999. "Has The U.S. Economy Become More Stable? A Bayesian Approach Based On A Markov-Switching Model Of The Business Cycle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 608-616, November.
  23. Taubman, Paul & Wilkinson, Maurice, 1970. "User Cost, Capital Utilization and Investment Theory," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 11(2), pages 209-15, June.
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