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The Great Diversification and its Undoing

  • Xavier Gabaix

    (NYU Stern)

  • Vasco M. Carvalho

    (CREI)

This paper investigates whether the secular process of Structural Change - i.e. the broad shift away from manufacturing and towards services during the post war period - can simultaneously account for the Great Moderation and provide a mechanism for its unraveling. Based on detailed US sectoral output data, this paper (i) shows a U-shaped evolution of sectoral shares' concentration for the US and links it to the process of structural change; (ii) shows that the 1980s and 1990s correspond to the period of lowest technological concentration and that the rising shares of financial services, real estate and other business services explain the bulk of the upswing in technological concentration occurring during the 2000s and (iii) shows that the diversification occurring during the 1980s and 1990s is able to explain around half of the decline in aggregate TFP volatility. We then integrate these insights in a quantitative multi-sector business cycle model to show that the observed trends in technological diversification account for a third of the Great Moderation. The paper concludes by taking a closer look to the sources and effects of the observed upswing in technological concentration in the late 1990s and 2000s and discusses whether a return to higher aggregate volatility levels observed is possible.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2010 Meeting Papers with number 880.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed010:880
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Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA

Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/
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  1. Henry Siu & Nir Jaimovich, 2007. "The Young, the Old, and the Restless: Demographics and Business Cycle Volatility," 2007 Meeting Papers 521, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Gabriel Perez-Quiros & Margaret M. McConnell, 2000. "Output Fluctuations in the United States: What Has Changed since the Early 1980's?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1464-1476, December.
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  4. Zhongjun Qu & Pierre Perron, 2005. "Estimating and testing structural changes in multivariate regressions," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2005-012, Boston University - Department of Economics.
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  8. Xavier Gabaix, 2009. "The Granular Origins of Aggregate Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 15286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  10. Moro, Alessio, 2009. "The structural transformation between manufacturing and services and the deline in the U.S. GDP volatility," UC3M Working papers. Economics we091409, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
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  12. Susanto Basu & John Fernald & Miles Kimball, 2002. "Are Technology Improvements Contractionary?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1986, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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  14. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1986. "Micro Shocks and Aggregate Risks," Working Papers 86-14, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  15. Kalemli-Ozcan, Sebnem & Sørensen, Bent E & Volosovych, Vadym, 2010. "Deep Financial Integration and Volatility," CEPR Discussion Papers 7784, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Jordi Galí & Luca Gambetti, 2006. "On the sources of the Great Moderation," Economics Working Papers 1041, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jun 2007.
  17. Marcel P. Timmer & Mary O’Mahony & Bart van Ark, 2007. "EU KLEMS Growth and Productivity Accounts: An Overview," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 14, pages 71-85, Spring.
  18. Wacziarg, Romain & Imbs, Jean, 2000. "Stages of Diversification," Research Papers 1653, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  19. 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.
  20. Daron Acemoglu & Asuman Ozdaglar & Alireza Tahbaz-Salehi, 2010. "Cascades in Networks and Aggregate Volatility," NBER Working Papers 16516, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Vasco Carvalho, 2007. "Aggregate fluctuations and the network structure of intersectoral trade," Economics Working Papers 1206, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2010.
  22. Andrew T. Foerster & Pierre-Daniel G. Sarte & Mark W. Watson, 2011. "Sectoral versus Aggregate Shocks: A Structural Factor Analysis of Industrial Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(1), pages 1 - 38.
  23. Dupor, Bill, 1999. "Aggregation and irrelevance in multi-sector models," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 391-409, April.
  24. 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.
  25. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf's Law for Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767.
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