Unit roots and the welfare gains of cycle smoothing

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1996-05-30
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li consumption is log-Normal and is decomposed into a linear deterministic trend and a stationary cycle, a surprising result in business-cycle research is that the welfare gains of eliminating uncertainty are relatively small. A possible problem with such calculations is the dichotomy between the trend and the cyclical components of consumption. In this paper, we abandon this dichotomy in two ways. First, we decompose consumption into a deterministic trend, a stochastic trend, and a stationary cyclical component, calculating the welfare gains of cycle smoothing. Calculations are carried forward only after a careful discussion of the limitations of macroeconomic policy. Second, still under the stochastic-trend model, we incorporate a variable slope for consumption depending negatively on the overall volatility in the economy. Results are obtained for a variety of preference parameterizations, parameter values, and different macroeconomic-policy goals. They show that, once the dichotomy in the decomposition in consumption is abandoned, the welfare gains of cycle smoothing may be substantial, especially due to the volatility effect.


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