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Can News About the Future Drive the Business Cycle?

Sep 2006
Working Paper
07-014
By  Nir Jaimovich, Sergio Rebelo
We propose a model that generates an economic expansion in response to good news about future total factor productivity (TFP) or investment-specific technical change. The model has three key elements: variable capital utilization, adjustment costs to investment, and preferences that exhibit a weak short-run wealth effect on the labor supply. These preferences nest the two classes of utility functions most widely used in the business cycle literature as special cases. Our model can generate recessions that resemble those of the post-war U.S. economy without relying on negative productivity shocks. The recessions are caused not by contemporaneous negative shocks but rather by lackluster news about future TFP or investment-specific technical change.