Journal Article

Detecting recessions in the Great Moderation: a real-time analysis

Abstract: The nature of the business cycle, particularly in the United States, has changed dramatically over the past several decades. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the U.S. economy often whipsawed up and down. Since then, real economic activity stabilized considerably, entering a period economists call the ?Great Moderation.? With the ups and downs of the economy becoming less dramatic, it has become harder to determine in real-time when the economy dips into recession. ; Economists have a variety of methods to determine when the economy is entering a recession. These methods range from directly analyzing a broad spectrum of data to the formal use of recession prediction models. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) uses the first approach, relying on several data series to make a determination of when the economy enters or exits a recession. Their decisions are intended to be accurate, not timely. More formal recession prediction models are designed to send a timely signal, but often do not take account of how the Great Moderation has altered the business cycle. ; Davig uses a framework that efficiently uses a large set of data in a ?business cycle tracking? model. The model accounts for shifts in overall economic volatility ? to capture the Great Moderation ? and sends a signal when the economy is shifting between periods of low and high economic activity. The model can be used in different ways to extract a signal regarding whether the economy is likely heading for an NBER recession.

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Part of Series: Economic Review

Publication Date: 2008

Volume: 93

Issue: Q IV

Pages: 5-33