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  • Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles: General (includes Measurement and Data) x
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Mr. Marco Gross
Where do economic cycles come from? This paper contemplates an utmost minimalistic model and underlying theory that rest on two assumptions for letting them emerge endogenously: (1) the presence of interest-bearing debt; and (2) a degree of downward nominal wage rigidity. Despite its parsimony, the model generates well-behaved, self-evolving limit cycles and replicates six essential empirical facts: (1) booms are long- while recessions short-lived; (2) leverage is procyclical; (3) firm profit and wage shares in GDP are counter- and procyclical, respectively; (4) Phillips curves are downward-sloping and convex, and Okun’s law relation is replicated; (5) default cascades arise endogenously at the turning points to recessions; (6) lending spreads are countercyclical. One can refer to the model as being of a Dynamic Stochastic General Disequilibrium (DSGD) kind.
Gail Cohen, João Tovar Jalles, Mr. Prakash Loungani, and Ricardo Marto
Recent discussions of the extent of decoupling between greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and real gross domestic product (GDP) provide mixed evidence and have generated much debate. We show that to get a clear picture of decoupling it is important to distinguish cycles from trends: there is an Environmental Okun's Law (a cyclical relationship between emissions and real GDP) that often obscures the trend relationship between emissions and real GDP. We show that, once the cyclical relationship is accounted for, the trends show evidence of decoupling in richer nations—particularly in European countries, but not yet in emerging markets. The picture changes somewhat, however, if we take into consideration the effects of international trade, that is, if we distinguish between production-based and consumption-based emissions. Once we add in their net emission transfers, the evidence for decoupling among the richer countries gets weaker. The good news is that countries with underlying policy frameworks more supportive of renewable energy and supportive of climate change tend to have greater decoupling between trend emissions and trend GDP, and for both production- and consumption-based emissions.
Karim Barhoumi and Laurent Ferrara
This paper develops a new monthly World Trade Leading Indicator (WTLI) that relies on nonparametric and parametric approaches. Compared to the CPB World Trade Monitor’s benchmark indicator for global trade the WTLI captures turning points in global trade with an average lead between 2 and 3 months. We also show that this cyclical indicator is able to track the annual growth rate in global trade, suggesting that the recent slowdown is due in part to certain cyclical factors. This new tool can provide policy makers with valuable foresight into the future direction of economic activity by tracking world trade more efficiently.
Mr. Manik L. Shrestha and Mr. Marco Marini
This paper presents a statistical analysis of revisions in quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) of the Group of Twenty countries (G-20) since 2000. The main objective is to assess whether the reliability of early estimates of quarterly GDP has been weakened from the turmoil of the 2008 financial crisis. The results indicate that larger and more downward revisions were observed during the years 2008 and 2009 than in previous years.
Mrs. Hanan Morsy and Ms. Florence Jaumotte
While inflation differentials in a monetary union can be benign, reflecting a catch-up process, or an adjustment mechanism to asymmetric shocks or different business cycles, they may also indicate distortions related to inefficiencies in domestic product and labor markets that amplify or make more persistent the impact of shocks on inflation. The paper examines the determinants of inflation differentials in the euro area, with emphasis on the role of country specific labor and product market institutions. The analysis uses a traditional backward-looking Phillips curve equation and augments it to explore the role of collective bargaining systems, union density, employment protection, and product market regulation. The model is estimated over a panel dataset of 10 euro area countries over the period 1983-2007. Results show that high employment protection, intermediate coordination of collective bargaining, and high union density increase the persistence of inflation. Oil and raw materials price shocks are also more likely to be accommodated by wage increases when the degree of coordination in collective bargaining is intermediate. These results are robust to different estimation methods, model specifications, and outliers. The paper suggests that reforming labor market institutions may improve the functioning of the euro area by reducing the risk of persistent inflation differentials.
Mr. Willy A Hoffmaister and Mr. Jens R Clausen
In the United States and a few European countries, inventory behavior is mainly the outcome of demand shocks: a standard buffer-stock model best characterizes these economies. But most European countries are described by a modified buffer-stock model where supply shocks dominate. In contrast to the United States, inventories boost growth with a one-year lag in Europe. Moreover, inventories provide limited information to improve growth forecasts particularly when a modified buffer-stock model characterizes inventory behavior.
Juan Carlos Cordoba and Ms. Genevieve Verdier
Lucas (2004) asserts that "Of the tendencies that are harmful to sound economics, the most seductive, and in my opinion the most poisonous, is to focus on questions of distribution... The potential for improving the lives of poor people by finding different ways of distributing current production is nothing compared to the apparently limitless potential of increasing production." In this paper we evaluate this claim using an extended version of Lucas' (1987) welfare-evaluation framework. Surprisingly, we find that the welfare costs of inequality outweigh the benefits of growth in most cases. These calculations support the case for a research agenda that treats not only growth but also inequality as a priority.
Mr. Serdar Sayan
Workers' remittances are often argued to have a tendency to move countercyclically with the GDP in recipient countries since migrant workers are expected to remit more during down cycles of economic activity back home. Yet, how much to remit is a complex decision involving other factors, and different variables driving remittance behavior are differently affected by the state of economic activity over the business cycle. This paper investigates the behavior of workers' remittances flows into 12 developing countries over their respective business cycles during 1976-2003 and finds that countercyclicality of receipts is not commonly observed across these countries.
International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.


The World Economic Outlook, published twice a year in English, French, Spanish, and Arabic, presents IMF staff economists' analyses of global economic developments during the near and medium term. Chapters give an overview of the world economy; consider issues affecting industrial countries, and economics in transition to market; and address topics of pressing current interest. Annexes, boxes, charts, and an extensive statistical appendix augment the text.