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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
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. 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.
  2. Nir Jaimovich & Henry E. Siu, 2007. "The young, the old, and the restless: demographics and business cycle volatility," Staff Report 387, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. Alejandro Justiniano & Giorgio E. Primiceri, 2008. "The Time-Varying Volatility of Macroeconomic Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 604-41, June.
  4. Julian di Giovanni & Andrei A. Levchenko, 2009. "International Trade and Aggregate Fluctuations in Granular Economies," Working Papers 585, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  5. Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & Bent Sorensen & Vadym Volosovych, 2014. "Deep Financial Integration And Volatility," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(6), pages 1558-1585, December.
  6. Nirei, Makoto, 2006. "Threshold behavior and aggregate fluctuation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 127(1), pages 309-322, March.
  7. 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.
  8. Xavier Gabaix, 2009. "The Granular Origins of Aggregate Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 15286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Jean Imbs & Romain Wacziarg, 2003. "Stages of Diversification," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 63-86, March.
  10. Marianne Sensier & Dick van Dijk, 2004. "Testing for Volatility Changes in U.S. Macroeconomic Time Series," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(3), pages 833-839, August.
  11. Dupor, Bill, 1999. "Aggregation and irrelevance in multi-sector models," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 391-409, April.
  12. Susanto Basu & John Fernald & Miles Kimball, 1998. "Are technology improvements contractionary?," International Finance Discussion Papers 625, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. Luca Gambetti & Jordi Gal�, 2009. "On the Sources of the Great Moderation," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 26-57, January.
  14. Vasco M Carvalho, 2008. "Aggregate Fluctuations and the Network Structure of Intersectoral Trade," 2008 Meeting Papers 1062, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  15. repec:dgr:rugggd:gd-115 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Francisco J. Buera & Joseph P. Kaboski, 2006. "The Rise of the Service Economy," 2006 Meeting Papers 496, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Alessio Moro, 2012. "The Structural Transformation Between Manufacturing and Services and the Decline in the US GDP Volatility," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 15(3), pages 402-415, July.
  20. Andres Arias & Gary Hansen & Lee Ohanian, 2007. "Why have business cycle fluctuations become less volatile?," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 43-58, July.
  21. Erzo G. J. Luttmer, 2007. "Selection, Growth, and the Size Distribution of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1103-1144, 08.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. Daron Acemoglu & Asuman Ozdaglar & Alireza Tahbaz-Salehi, 2010. "Cascades in Networks and Aggregate Volatility," NBER Working Papers 16516, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf'S Law For Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767, August.
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