Staff Reports
Extracting Business Cycle Fluctuations: What Do Time Series Filters Really Do?
June 2007 Number 289
JEL classification: C22, E32

Author: Arturo Estrella

Various methods are available to extract the “business cycle component” of a given time series variable. These methods may be derived as solutions to frequency extraction or signal extraction problems and differ in both their handling of trends and noise and their assumptions about the ideal time-series properties of a business cycle component. The filters are frequently illustrated by application to white noise, but applications to other processes may have very different and possibly unintended effects. This paper examines several frequently used filters as they apply to a range of dynamic process specifications and derives some guidelines for the use of such techniques.

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