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Towards an Understanding of Some Business Cycle Characteristics

Adrian Pagan ()

Australian Economic Review, 1997, vol. 30, issue 1, 1-15

Abstract: For many years economists have debated the ‘causes’ of business cycles. Very little of this analysis has been closely matched with business cycle characteristics as measured by NBER‐type dating methods. After summarising data on business cycle characteristics for a wide variety of countries, the article shows that an extremely simple statistical model of output growth, viz. that it is uncorrelated from month to month or quarter to quarter, produces business cycles that are close to those seen in practice. The demonstration involves the analysis of data simulated from this simple statistical model as well as some analytical work using a standard definition of a recession as being two quarters of negative growth. As well as explaining the average length of a cycle this model also accounts for the asymmetry between the lengths of expansions and contractions through the relative magnitudes of the trend rate of growth of the economy and the standard deviation of the shocks that impinge upon it.

Date: 1997
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