Staff Reports
Recent Changes in the U.S. Business Cycle
May 2001 Number 126
JEL classification: E52, C53

Authors: Marcelle Chauvet and Simon Potter

The U.S. business cycle expansion that started in March 1991 is the longest on record. This paper uses statistical techniques to examine whether this expansion is a onetime unique event or whether its length is a result of a change in the stability of the U.S. economy. Bayesian methods are used to estimate a common factor model that allows for structural breaks in the dynamics of a wide range of macroeconomic variables. We find strong evidence that a reduction in volatility is common to the series examined. Further, the reduction in volatility implies that future expansions will be considerably longer than the historical average.

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For a published version of this report, see Marcelle Chauvet and Simon Potter, "Recent Changes in the U.S. Business Cycle," Manchester School of Economic and Social Studies69, no. 5 (special issue 2001): 481-508.