A New Index of the Business Cycle
Posted: 21 Jan 2020
Date Written: January 15, 2020
The authors introduce a new index of the business cycle that uses the Mahalanobis distance to measure the statistical similarity of current economic conditions to past episodes of recession and robust growth. Their index has several important features that distinguish it from the Conference Board’s leading, coincident, and lagging indicators. It is efficient because as a single index it conveys reliable information about the path of the business cycle. Their index gives an independent assessment of the state of the economy because it is constructed from variables that are different than those used by the NBER to identify recessions. It is strictly data driven; hence, it is unaffected by human bias or persuasion. It gives an objective assessment of the business cycle because it is expressed in units of statistical likelihood. And it explicitly accounts for the interaction, along with the level, of the economic variables from which it is constructed.
Keywords: Business cycle, Coincident indicator, Conference Board, KKT Index, Lagging indicator, Leading indicator, Mahalanobis distance, NBER, Robust growth, Recession, Statistical similarity, Yield curve
JEL Classification: C18, C24, C32, C34, C53, C54, C65, E61, E62, E63, E66, G11, G18
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