Common cycles in macroeconomic aggregates

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Reduced form estimation of multivariate data sets currently takes into account long-run co-movement restrictions by using Vector Error Correction Models (VECM' s). However, short-run co-movement restrictions are completely ignored. This paper proposes a way of taking into account short-and long-run co-movement restrictions in multivariate data sets, leading to efficient estimation of VECM' s. It enables a more precise trend-cycle decomposition of the data which imposes no untested restrictions to recover these two components. The proposed methodology is applied to a multivariate data set containing U.S. per-capita output, consumption and investment Based on the results of a post-sample forecasting comparison between restricted and unrestricted VECM' s, we show that a non-trivial loss of efficiency results whenever short-run co-movement restrictions are ignored. While permanent shocks to consumption still play a very important role in explaining consumption’s variation, it seems that the improved estimates of trends and cycles of output, consumption, and investment show evidence of a more important role for transitory shocks than previously suspected. Furthermore, contrary to previous evidence, it seems that permanent shocks to output play a much more important role in explaining unemployment fluctuations.

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