Interpreting the Great Moderation: Changes in the Volatility of Economic Activity at the Macro and Micro Levels
Steven Davis () and
James Kahn ()
No 14048, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc
We review evidence on the Great Moderation in conjunction with evidence about volatility trends at the micro level. We combine the two types of evidence to develop a tentative story for important components of the aggregate volatility decline and its consequences. The key ingredients are declines in firm-level volatility and aggregate volatility -- most dramatically in the durable goods sector -- but the absence of a decline in household consumption volatility and individual earnings uncertainty. Our explanation for the aggregate volatility decline stresses improved supply-chain management, particularly in the durable goods sector, and, less important, a shift in production and employment from goods to services. We provide evidence that better inventory control made a substantial contribution to declines in firm-level and aggregate volatility. Consistent with this view, if we look past the turbulent 1970s and early 1980s much of the moderation reflects a decline in high frequency (short-term) fluctuations. While these developments represent efficiency gains, they do not imply (nor is there evidence for) a reduction in economic uncertainty faced by individuals and households.
JEL-codes: E32 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-bec and nep-mac
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (88) Track citations by RSS feed
Published as Steven J. Davis & James A. Kahn, 2008. "Interpreting the Great Moderation: Changes in the Volatility of Economic Activity at the Macro and Micro Levels," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(4), pages 155-80, Fall.
Downloads: (external link)
Journal Article: Interpreting the Great Moderation: Changes in the Volatility of Economic Activity at the Macro and Micro Levels (2008)
Working Paper: Interpreting the Great Moderation: changes in the volatility of economic activity at the macro and micro Levels (2008)
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14048
Ordering information: This working paper can be ordered from
Access Statistics for this paper
More papers in NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.. Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by ().