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The HP-filter in cross-country comparisons

  • Albert Marcet
  • Morten O. Ravn

Many empirical studies of business cycles have followed the practise of applying the Hodrick-Prescott filter for cross-country comparisons. The standard procedure is to set the weight \lambda, which determines the 'smoothness' of the trend equal to 1600. We show that if this value is used for against common wisdom about business cycles. As an example, we show that the long recession occurred inSpain between 1975 and 1985 goes unnotoced by the HP filter. We propose a method for adjusting \lambda by reinterpreting the HP-filter as the solution to a constrained minimization problem. We argue that the common practice of fixing \lambda across countries amounts to chankging the constraints on trend variability across countries. Our proposed method is easy to apply, retains all the virtues of the standard HP-filter and when applied to Spanish data the results are in the line with economic historian's view. Applying the method to a number of OECD countries we find that, with the exception of Spain, Italy and Japan, the standard choice of \lambda=1600 is sensible.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 588.

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Date of creation: Nov 2001
Date of revision: Dec 2003
Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:588
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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  1. Marianne Baxter & Robert G. King, 1999. "Measuring Business Cycles: Approximate Band-Pass Filters For Economic Time Series," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 575-593, November.
  2. Morten O. Ravn & Harald Uhlig, 2001. "On Adjusting the HP-Filter for the Frequency of Observations," CESifo Working Paper Series 479, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Steve Ambler & Emanuela Cardia & Christian Zimmermann, 1999. "International Business Cycles: What are the Facts?," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 90, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  4. David K. Backus & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1992. "International Evidence on the Historical Properties of Business Cycles," Working Papers 92-5, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  5. David K. Backus & Patrick J. Kehoe & Finn E. Kydland, 1987. "International real business cycles," Working Papers 426, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  6. Luis Puch & Omar Licandro, . "Are there any special features in the Spanish business cycles?," Working Papers 97-06, FEDEA.
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