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Skewed Business Cycles

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  • Nicholas Bloom

    (Stanford University)

  • Fatih Guvenen

    (University of Minnesota)

  • Sergio Salgado

    (University of Minnesota)

Abstract

This paper studies how the distribution of the growth rate of firm-level variables (sales, profit, inventories, and employment) changes over the business cycle. Using a panel of Compustat firms from 1964 to 2013 we find that, in addition to the well-documented counter cyclicality in dispersion, the third moment---skewness---is strongly pro cyclical. This happens because the distribution of negative growth rates expands during recessions while the distribution of positive growth rates changes little. In fact, this pattern---of lower tail greatly expanding during recessions---is also the main driver behind the counter cyclicality of dispersion. These results are robust to different selection criteria, across firm size categories, and across industries. We also analyze the distribution of macroeconomic outcomes such as GDP growth and stock returns using a panel of developed and developing countries. Here we also find evidence of declining skewness during periods of low economic activity.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicholas Bloom & Fatih Guvenen & Sergio Salgado, 2016. "Skewed Business Cycles," 2016 Meeting Papers 1621, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed016:1621
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    7. Iseringhausen, Martin & Petrella, Ivan & Theodoridis, Konstantinos, 2021. "Aggregate Skewness and the Business Cycle," Cardiff Economics Working Papers E2021/30, Cardiff University, Cardiff Business School, Economics Section.
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    9. Òscar Jordà & Moritz Schularick & Alan M. Taylor, 2020. "Disasters Everywhere: The Costs of Business Cycles Reconsidered," Staff Reports 925, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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    11. Gross, Isaac & Hansen, James, 2021. "Optimal policy design in nonlinear DSGE models: An n-order accurate approximation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 140(C).
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    13. Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde & Pablo Guerron-Quintana, 2020. "Uncertainty Shocks and Business Cycle Research," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 37, pages 118-166, August.
    14. Bachmann, Rüdiger & Elstner, Steffen & Hristov, Atanas, 2017. "Surprise, surprise – Measuring firm-level investment innovations," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 107-148.
    15. Haykaz Igityan, 2019. "Asymmetric Effects of Monetary Policy in Different Phases of Armenia's Business Cycle," Working Papers 11, Central Bank of the Republic of Armenia.
    16. Gigout, Timothee, 2019. "Firm dynamics in an global and uncertain economy," MPRA Paper 96569, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 16 Oct 2019.
    17. Burgess, Matthew G. & Langendorf, Ryan E. & Ippolito, Tara & Pielke, Roger Jr, 2020. "Optimistically biased economic growth forecasts and negatively skewed annual variation," SocArXiv vndqr, Center for Open Science.
    18. Nam Gang Lee, 2020. "Vulnerable Growth: A Revisit," Working Papers 2020-22, Economic Research Institute, Bank of Korea.
    19. Eric Anderson & Sergio Rebelo & Arlene Wong, 2020. "Markups Across Space and Time," Working Papers 2020-6, Princeton University. Economics Department..
    20. Thiago Revil T. Ferreira, 2022. "Cross-Sectional Financial Conditions, Business Cycles and The Lending Channel," International Finance Discussion Papers 1335, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    21. Benigno, Pierpaolo & Rossi, Lorenza, 2021. "Asymmetries in monetary policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 140(C).
    22. De Santis, Roberto A. & Van der Veken, Wouter, 2020. "Forecasting macroeconomic risk in real time: Great and Covid-19 Recessions," Working Paper Series 2436, European Central Bank.
    23. Fève, Patrick & Sanchez, Pablo Garcia & Moura, Alban & Pierrard, Olivier, 2021. "Costly default and skewed business cycles," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 132(C).
    24. Martin Ravallion, 2022. "Macroeconomic Covariates of Real Household Incomes in America," Working Papers gueconwpa~22-22-04, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
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