Financial factors and the business cycle

Author name: 
Berger T
Richter J
Wong B

We study how financial factors shape and interact with the U.S. business cycle through a unified empirical approach where we jointly estimate financial and business cycles as well as identify their underlying drivers using a medium-scale Bayesian Vector Autoregression. First, we show, both in reduced form and when we identify a structural financial shock, that variation in financial factors had a larger role in driving the output gap post-2000 and a more modest role pre-2000. Our results suggest that the financial sector did play a role in overheating the business cycle pre-Great Recession. Second, while we document a positive unconditional correlation between the credit cycle and the output gap, the correlation of the lagged credit cycle and the contemporaneous output gap turns negative when we condition on a financial shock. The sign-switch suggests that the nature of the underlying shocks may be important for understanding the relationship between the business and financial cycles.

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