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Issues in Identifying Economic Crises: Insights from History

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  • Xavier De Scheemaekere
  • Kim Oosterlinck
  • Ariane Szafarz

Abstract

Economists have been blamed for their inability to forecast and address crises. This paper attributes this inability to intertwined factors: the lack of a coherent definition of crises, the reference class problem, the lack of imagination regarding the nature of future crises, and sample selection biases. Specifically, economists tend to adapt their views on crises to recent episodes, and omit averted and potential crises. Threshold-based definitions of crises run the risk of being ad hoc. Using historical examples, this paper highlights some epistemological shortcomings of the current approach.

Suggested Citation

  • Xavier De Scheemaekere & Kim Oosterlinck & Ariane Szafarz, 2014. "Issues in Identifying Economic Crises: Insights from History," Working Papers CEB 14-014, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:2013/171717
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economic Crisis; Single-Case Probability; Epistemology; Economic History;

    JEL classification:

    • B40 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - General
    • G00 - Financial Economics - - General - - - General
    • N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General

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