Has the business cycle changed?
Modeling inflation after the crisis
Measuring Real Activity Using a Weekly Economic Index
This paper describes a weekly economic index (WEI) developed to track the rapid economic developments associated with the onset of and policy response to the novel coronavirus in the United States. The WEI is a weekly composite index of real economic activity, with eight of 10 series available the Thursday after the end of the reference week. In addition to being a weekly real activity index, the WEI has strong predictive power for output measures and provided an accurate nowcast of current-quarter GDP growth in the first half of 2020, with weaker performance in the second half. We document ...
Tracking the COVID-19 Economy with the Weekly Economic Index (WEI)
At the end of March, we launched the Weekly Economic Index (WEI) as a tool to monitor changes in real activity during the pandemic. The rapid deterioration in economic conditions made it important to assess developments as soon as possible, rather than waiting for monthly and quarterly data to be released. In this post, we describe how the WEI has measured the effects of COVID-19. So far in 2020, the WEI has synthesized daily and weekly data to measure GDP growth remarkably well. We document this performance, and we offer some guidance on evaluating the WEI’s forecasting abilities based on ...
The Disappointing Recovery in U.S. Output after 2009
U.S. output has expanded only slowly since the recession trough in 2009, counter to normal expectations of a rapid cyclical recovery. Removing cyclical effects reveals that the deep recession was superimposed on a sharply slowing trend in underlying growth. The slowing trend reflects two factors: slow growth of innovation and declining labor force participation. Both of these powerful adverse forces were in place before the recession and, thus, were not the result of the financial crisis or policy changes since 2009.
Monitoring Real Activity in Real Time: The Weekly Economic Index
Economists are well-practiced at assessing real activity based on familiar aggregate time series, like the unemployment rate, industrial production, or GDP growth. However, these series represent monthly or quarterly averages of economic conditions, and are only available at a considerable lag, after the month or quarter ends. When the economy hits sudden headwinds, like the COVID-19 pandemic, conditions can evolve rapidly. How can we monitor the high-frequency evolution of the economy in “real time”?
Stochastic trends and economic fluctuations
A state-dependent model for inflation forecasting
We develop a parsimonious bivariate model of inflation and unemployment that allows for persistent variation in trend inflation and the NAIRU. The model, which consists of five unobserved components (including the trends) with stochastic volatility, implies a time-varying VAR for changes in the rates of inflation and unemployment. The implied backwards-looking Phillips curve has a time-varying slope that is steeper in the 1970s than in the 1990s. Pseudo out-of-sample forecasting experiments indicate improvements upon univariate benchmarks. Since 2008, the implied Phillips curve has become ...