Business cycle dating committee nber

How does that relate to your recession dating procedure? As an example, the Committee has identified the period from the first quarter in to the third quarter in as a recession, despite the fact that real GDP was growing in some quarters during that episode and that real GDP was higher at the end of the recession than at the beginning. As another example, the Committee did not declare a recession for or , even though the data at the time appeared to show a decline in economic activity though not for two quarters. Subsequent data revisions have erased these declines.

How Useful Is the NBER's Dating of Business Cycles? | Mises Institute

First, we do not identify economic activity solely with real GDP, but use a range of indicators, notably employment. Second, we consider the depth of the decline in economic activity. The following period is an expansion. How long does the Committee expect the recession to last? The Committee does not forecast.

How is the Committee's membership determined? The President and the Research Director are ex officio members of the Committee. Does the Committee date recessions for individual countries in the euro area? No, the sole objective of the Committee is to date recessions for the euro area as a whole. Why does the Committee not date recessions for individual countries?

Is it possible that the EU area is in a recession while some of the individual countries are not? The Committee wants to make sure that its characterization of Euro-area economic activity which is its sole objective is not affected by rising heterogeneity in the Euro-area. Adopting a dating criterion that refers solely to aggregate Euro-area economic activity achieves this objective most transparently. Note that since October the Committee has dropped its requirement that peaks or troughs mark turning points in economic activity in most countries of the euro area.


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Even the information regarding the average duration of expansion as identified by the NBER is of little help given the wide variation of this average — the average between and stood at 42 months; between and it was 27 months; between and it stood at 35 months and between and at 59 months. Now, in a free unhampered environment we could envisage that the economy would be subject to various shocks, but it is difficult to envisage a phenomenon of recurrent boom-bust cycles.

Before the Industrial Revolution in approximately the late 18th century, there were no regularly recurring booms and depressions. There would be a sudden economic crisis whenever some king made war or confiscated the property of his subjects; but there was no sign of the peculiarly modern phenomena of general and fairly regular swings in business fortunes, of expansions and contractions. The boom-bust cycle phenomenon is somehow linked to the modern world. But what is the link? Careful examination of this would reveal that the link is in fact the modern banking system, which is coordinated by the central bank.

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The source of recessions turns out to be the alleged "protector" of the economy — the central bank itself. Further investigation would show that the phenomenon of recessions is not about the weakness of the economy, as such as the NBER and most economists present, but about the liquidation of various activities that sprang up on the back of the loose monetary policies of the central bank.


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For the NBER economists as well as other economic experts the so-called economy is discussed in terms of real GDP, which we suggest is likely to lead to erroneous conclusions. Now, real GDP supposedly depicts the total of final real goods and services produced. But can such a total be calculated? To calculate a total, several things must be added together. To add things together, they must have some unit in common.

It is, however, not possible to add refrigerators to cars and shirts to obtain the total of final goods. Since total real output cannot be defined in a meaningful way, obviously it cannot be quantified. To overcome this problem economists employ total monetary expenditure on goods, which they divide by an average price of those goods. But is the calculation of an average price possible?

The Business Cycle (Economic Expansions and Contractions) Explained in One Minute

Suppose two transactions are conducted. In order to calculate the average price, we must add these two ratios and divide them by two. Since GDP is expressed in dollar terms, which is deflated by a dubious price deflator, there is a high likelihood that the fluctuations of so-called real GDP will be driven by fluctuations in the amount of dollars pumped into the economy.

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Hence various statements by most economists regarding the rate of growth of the real economy are nothing more than a reflection of fluctuations in the money-supply rate of growth and has nothing to do with true real growth, which cannot be quantified. Once a recession is assessed in terms of real GDP it is not surprising that the central bank appears to be able to counter the recessionary effects that emerge. For instance, by pushing more money into the economy, the central bank's actions appear to be effective, because real GDP will show a positive response to this pumping after a time lag.

Conversely, once the central bank tightens its stance and slows the pace of monetary pumping, the so-called economy in terms of real GDP follows suit — a recession is set in motion. Because fluctuations in real GDP are a reflection of fluctuations in money supply, we suggest that, contrary to popular thinking, an increase in the rate of growth of real GDP should be seen as reflecting economic impoverishment rather than economic growth.

Conversely, a fall in the rate of growth of real GDP could be seen as a reflection of less pressure on the wealth-formation process and hence should be seen as positive for economic growth. Why is this so? Note that a loose central-bank monetary policy sets in motion an exchange of nothing for something, which amounts to a diversion of real wealth from wealth-generating activities to non-wealth-generating activities.

In the process, this diversion weakens wealth generators and this in turn weakens their ability to grow the overall pool of real wealth. Observe that loose monetary policy after a time lag follows by a strengthening in the rate of growth of real GDP and a weakening in the process of real wealth formation. Hence again, contrary to popular thinking, what we have here is not a strengthening but a weakening of the economy. In this sense the expansion in the activities that sprang up on the back of loose monetary policy is associated with what is labeled as an economic "boom," which is in fact false economic prosperity that leads to economic impoverishment.

Once the central bank tightens its monetary stance, this slows down the pace of monetary pumping and after a time lag slows down the rate of growth of real GDP. Note that a slowdown in the monetary pumping slows down the diversion of real wealth from wealth producers to non wealth producers.

Also note that, on account of a time lag, previous loose monetary policy tends to lift price inflation at the time when the present tighter stance is set in motion. This means that the nonproductive activities are now confronted with a decline in the rate of monetary pumping and a rise in price inflation.

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This amounts to the erosion in their purchasing power. Activities that sprang up on the back of the previous loose monetary policy nonproductive activities now get less support from the money supply — they fall in trouble. The liquidation of various nonproductive activities on account of a tighter monetary stance of the central bank is associated with a decline in the rate of growth of real GDP — seen as bad news by most commentators including the NBER. In reality however, there is now less pressure on the process of wealth generation. This means that a fall in the rate of growth of real GDP here is actually associated with the strengthening in the underlying fundamentals of the economy.

We can thus conclude that ,contrary to the NBER and popular thinking, a fall in the rate of growth in real GDP is the manifestation of the strengthening in the economy's economic fundamentals while the strengthening in the rate of growth of real GDP mirrors the weakening in the economy's fundamentals. Once it is observed that the central bank has adopted a tighter monetary stance and consequently the yearly rate of growth of money supply starts to decelerate, we can view this as the beginning of the liquidation phase, or the beginning of a recession in terms of real GDP.