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The Tail that Wags the Economy: Belief-Driven Business Cycles and Persistent Stagnation

Author

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  • Julian Kozlowski
  • Laura Veldkamp
  • Venky Venkateswaran

Abstract

The Great Recession was a deep downturn with long-lasting effects on credit markets, labor markets and output. We explore a simple explanation: This recession has been more persistent than others because it was perceived as an extremely unlikely event before 2007. Observing such an episode led all agents to re-assess macro risk, in particular, the probability of tail events. Since changes in beliefs endure long after the event itself has passed and through its effects on prices and choices, it produces long-lasting effects on investment, employment and output. To model this idea, we study a production economy with agents who use standard econometric tools to estimate the distribution of aggregate shocks. When they observe a new shock, they re-estimate the distribution from which it was drawn. Even transitory shocks have persistent effects because, once observed, they stay forever in the agents' data set. We feed a time-series of US macro data into our model and show that our belief revision mechanism can explain the 12% downward shift in US trend output.
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Suggested Citation

  • Julian Kozlowski & Laura Veldkamp & Venky Venkateswaran, 2015. "The Tail that Wags the Economy: Belief-Driven Business Cycles and Persistent Stagnation," Working Papers 15-10, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ste:nystbu:15-10
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    File URL: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/economics/docs/workingpapers/2015/KVV.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Martin Guzman & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2016. "Pseudo-wealth and Consumption Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 22838, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Ulrich Doraszelski & Gregory Lewis & Ariel Pakes, 2018. "Just Starting Out: Learning and Equilibrium in a New Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(3), pages 565-615, March.
    3. repec:red:issued:18-210 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Patrick Pintus & Jacek Suda, 2019. "Learning Financial Shocks and the Great Recession," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 31, pages 123-146, January.
    5. Hikaru Saijo & Cosmin Ilut, 2015. "Learning, Confidence, and Business Cycles," 2015 Meeting Papers 917, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Cristina Arellano & Yan Bai & Patrick J. Kehoe, 2012. "Financial frictions and fluctuations in volatility," Staff Report 466, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    7. Robert E. Hall, 2016. "Macroeconomics of Persistent Slumps," NBER Working Papers 22230, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Julian Kozlowski & Laura Veldkamp & Venky Venkateswaran, 2019. "The Tail That Keeps the Riskless Rate Low," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(1), pages 253-283.
    9. Maiko Koga & Haruko Kato, 2017. "Behavioral Biases in Firms' Growth Expectations," Bank of Japan Working Paper Series 17-E-9, Bank of Japan.
    10. Pablo D. Fajgelbaum & Edouard Schaal & Mathieu Taschereau-Dumouchel, 2017. "Uncertainty Traps," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(4), pages 1641-1692.
    11. Gehrig, Thomas Paul & Iannino, Maria Chiara, 2016. "Did the Basel Process of Capital Regulation Enhance the Resiliency of European Banks?," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145743, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    12. Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde & Lee Ohanian, 2018. "The Lack of European Productivity Growth: Causes and Lessons for the U.S," PIER Working Paper Archive 18-024, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 07 Sep 2018.
    13. Jean-Pierre Danthine, 2017. "Taux négatifs: made for Switzerland," Post-Print hal-01884328, HAL.
    14. Cheng Chen & Tatsuro Senga & Chang Sun & Hongyong Zhang, 2017. "Firm Expectations and Investment: Evidence from the China-Japan Island Dispute," Working Papers 838, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
    15. Straub, Ludwig & Ulbricht, Robert, 2015. "Endogenous Uncertainty and Credit Crunches," TSE Working Papers 15-604, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Dec 2017.
    16. David Berger & Ian Dew-Becker & Stefano Giglio, 2017. "Uncertainty Shocks as Second-Moment News Shocks," NBER Working Papers 23796, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. repec:eee:macchp:v2-2131 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. repec:eee:juecon:v:106:y:2018:i:c:p:81-100 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Matthew Gibson & Jamie T. Mullins & Alison Hill, 2019. "Climate Risk and Beliefs: Evidence from New York Floodplains," Department of Economics Working Papers 2019-02, Department of Economics, Williams College.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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