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The Great Recession vs. the Great Depression. Stylised Facts on Siblings that Were Given Different Foster Parents

Opens external link in new windowWIFO Working Papers, 354/2009

This paper compares the depth of the recent crisis and the Great Depression. We use a new data set, namely seven activity indicators, to compare the drop in activity in industrialised countries. This is done under the assumption that the recent crisis levelled off in mid-2009 for production and will do so for unemployment in 2010. Our data indicate that the recent crisis did indeed have the potential to turn into another Great Depression, as shown by the speed and simultaneity of the decline during the first nine months. However, if we assume that a large second dip can be avoided, the drop in all indicators overall will have been smaller than during the Great Depression. This holds true specifically for GDP, employment and prices, but is less true for manufacturing output. The difference in the depth of the crises reflects the differences in policy reaction. This time monetary policy and fiscal policy were applied courageously, speedily and were partly internationally coordinated. For several years during the Great Depression fiscal policy tried to stabilise budgets instead of aggregate demand, and either monetary policy was not applied or it was rather ineffective insofar as deflation turned lower nominal interest rates into higher real rates. Only future research will be able to prove the exact impact of economic policy, but the current tentative conclusion is that economic policy prevented the recent crisis from developing into a second Great Depression. This is also a partial vindication for economists. The majority of them might not have been able to predict the crisis, but it shows that the science did learn its lessons from the Great Depression and was able to give decent policy advice to at least limit the depth of the recent crisis.

An Anatomy of Firm Level Job Creation Rates over the Business Cycle

Opens external link in new windowWIFO Working Papers, 348/2009

We study the evolution and cyclical dependency of the cross sectional distribution of firm level job creation rates from 1975 to 2004 for the Austrian private sector. We find that the share of firms that o not adjust has declined over time, but that the share of entries, exits, growing and declining firms increased. The share of firms adjusting is higher in upswings than in downturns and the higher order moments of the job creation distribution follow distinct cyclical patterns. The smallest firms and firms at the extremes of the growth rate distribution are largely unaffected by the business cycle.

Measuring the Business Cycle Similarity and Convergence Trends in the CEECs Towards the Eurozone with Respect to some Unclear Methodological Aspects

Opens external link in new windowWIFO Working Papers, 346/2009 

The adoption of the Euro by Slovakia from January 2009 and the current world economic crises revived a debate on the timing of the adoption of the Euro in the Czech Republic and other CEECs. The purpose of the paper is to contribute to a discussion on the process of joining the Eurozone by the Czech Republic and other candidate countries. The paper provides an analysis of some business cycle similarity and convergence measures using different indicators and detrending techniques. Measures of business cycle similarity are ordinarily used to evaluate preparedness of candidate countries to join the Eurozone. The results indicate continuing convergence of the business cycle similarity between the candidate and Eurozone member countries. The paper also sheds some light on the possible influence of selected detrending techniques on the resulting correlations. It gives a recommendation to interpret the results of business cycle correlation measuring in the close context with used methodology. A short note on a regional approach to analyse the GDP cycles is also included in the text.

Composite Leading Indicator for the Austrian Economy. Methodology and "Real-time" Performance

Opens external link in new windowWIFO Working Papers, 369/2010

This paper describes the methodologies used for constructing a composite leading indicator for the Austrian economy (CLI-AT). First, a selection of those monthly indicators which overall fare best in showing a "steady" leading behaviour with respect to the Austrian business cycle was performed. The analysis was carried out by means of statistical methods out of the timeseries domain as well as from the frequency domain. Thirteen series have been finally classified as leading indicators. Among them, business and consumer survey data form the most prevalent group. Second, I construct the CLI-AT based on the de-trended, normalised and weighted leading series. For the de-trending procedure I use the HP filter and the weights have been obtained by means of principal components analysis. Further, idiosyncratic elements in the CLI-AT have been removed along with checking the endpoint-bias due to the HP filter smoothing procedure. I find that the "real-time" smoothed CLI-AT does not exhibit severe phase-shifts compared to a full-sample estimate. Next, I show that the CLI-AT provides a useful instrument for assessing the current and likely future direction in the Austrian business cycle. Over the period 1988-2008, the CLI-AT indicates cyclical turns with a "steady" lead in the majority of cases. Finally, in using an out-of-sample forecasting exercise it is shown that the CLI-AT carries important business cycle information and that its inclusion in a forecasting model can increase the projection quality of the underlying reference series.

Can the Inclusion of Calendar and Temperature Effects Improve Nowcasts and Forecasts of Construction Sector Output Based on Business Surveys?

Opens external link in new windowWIFO Working Papers, 374/2010

For nowcasting and short-term forecasting of industrial production and GDP, business surveys are a vital source of information. They cover information of the recent past as well as developments in the near future. Whereas variations in industrial production indices potentially cover weather conditions as well as variations due to the different number of work days, it is unclear to which extent business surveys mirror them as well. Ignoring such information can lead to model misspecifications if used for nowcasting or forecasting. This paper sheds light on the effects of temperature changes as well as the varying number of work days on business survey results and on the production index of the Austrian construction industry. We find that survey data do not contain sufficiently the effects of the different number of work days necessary for explaining variations in industrial production of the construction sector. No statistical evidence was found that changing temperatures beyond their typical seasonal pattern influence the survey results and production.

On the Design of Data Sets for Forecasting with Dynamic Factor Models

Opens external link in new windowWIFO Working Papers, 376/2010

Forecasts from dynamic factor models potentially benefit from refining the data set by eliminating uninformative series. The paper proposes to use forecast weights as provided by the factor model itself for this purpose. Monte Carlo simulations and an empirical application to forecasting euro area, German, and French GDP growth from unbalanced monthly data suggest that both forecast weights and least angle regressions result in improved forecasts. Overall, forecast weights provide yet more robust results.

Why Labour Market Response Differed in the Great Recession: The Impact of Institutions and Policy

Opens external link in new windowWIFO Working Papers, 396/2011

This paper investigates the performance of labour markets during the recent crisis for 28 industrialised countries, specifically the reaction of employment and unemployment indicators relative to output changes. We construct a composite indicator for output as well as labour market performance. The determinants of cross-country differences we chose are regulation, flexicurity elements and contracts. We find a robust positive impact of labour market regulation, while the impacts of flexicurity strategies and contracts are difficult to pin down econometrically. Finally we venture a tentative look at the ongoing recovery.

Why Performance Differed Across Countries in the Recent Crisis. How Country Performance in the Recent Crisis Depended on Pre-crisis Conditions

Opens external link in new windowWIFO Working Papers, 387/2011

The growth performance of countries proved to be very different during the recent crisis. We apply principal component analysis to derive a single ordinal indicator on growth performance and to analyse whether initial conditions of economies or structural characteristics can explain the differences in growth performance. As initial conditions at the start of the crisis we use fiscal situation, trade competitiveness, output and credit growth, as structural characteristics we test size, openness, share of sectors and per-capita income. The task has proved to be as difficult as expected as causality often works in two ways and policy variables have intervened, which themselves are dependent on the initial conditions and structural characteristics. The three indicators that end up as the best predictors for the depth of the crisis are correlated with one another and thus difficult to disentangle.

On the Change in the Austrian Business Cycle

Opens external link in new windowWIFO Working Papers, 384/2011

This paper analyses the change in the Austrian business cycle over time using data back to 1954. The change in the cyclical pattern is captured using a nonlinear univariate structural time series model where the time of the break point is estimated. Results for GDP series suggest a break in the frequency of the cycle and in the parameter covering the variance of the disturbances of the cycle taking place in the mid 1970s and early 1980s, respectively. Using data for GDP components a break in these variables is found, too, but the timing of the break differs among the series. In a further step the paper assesses the relevance of these findings for forecasting purposes. It is shown that during certain periods the out-of-sample forecasting performance of GDP does improve when a break in one of the two parameters is explicitly modelled.