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Measuring Business Cycle: A Modern Perspective

In the first half of this century, special attention was given to two features of the business cycle: (1) the comovement of many individual economic series and (2) the different behavior of the economy during expansions and contractions. Both of these attributes were ignored in many subsequent business cycle models, which were often linear representations of a single macroeconomic aggregate. However, recent theoretical and empirical research has revived interest in each attribute separately. Notably, dynamic factor models have been used to obtain a single common factor from a set of macroeconomic variables, and nonlinear models have been used to describe the regime-switching nature of aggregate output. We survey these two strands of research and then provide some suggestive empirical analysis in an effort to unite the two literatures and to assess their usefulness in a statistical characterization of business- cycle dynamics.

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