Common cycles in macroeconomic aggregates (revised version)

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Although there has been substantial research on long-run co-movement (common trends) in the empirical macroeconomics literature. little or no work has been done on short run co-movement (common cycles). Investigating common cycles is important on two grounds: first. their existence is an implication of most dynamic macroeconomic models. Second. they impose important restrictions on dynamic systems. Which can be used for efficient estimation and forecasting. In this paper. using a methodology that takes into account short- and long-run co-movement restrictions. we investigate their existence in a multivariate data set containing U.S. per-capita output. consumption. and investment. As predicted by theory. the data have common trends and common cycles. Based on the results of a post-sample forecasting comparison between restricted and unrestricted systems. we show that a non-trivial loss of efficiency results when common cycles are ignored. If permanent shocks are associated with changes in productivity. the latter fails to be an important source of variation for output and investment contradicting simple aggregate dynamic models. Nevertheless. these shocks play a very important role in explaining the variation of consumption. Showing evidence of smoothing. Furthermore. it seems that permanent shocks to output play a much more important role in explaining unemployment fluctuations than previously thought.

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