Oil and the Macroeconomy Since the 1970s

36 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2004 Last revised: 31 Aug 2010

See all articles by Robert Barsky

Robert Barsky

Research Department, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Lutz Kilian

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 2004

Abstract

Increases in oil prices have been held responsible for recessions, periods of excessive inflation, reduced productivity and lower economic growth. In this paper, we review the arguments supporting such views. First, we highlight some of the conceptual difficulties in assigning a central role to oil price shocks in explaining macroeconomic fluctuations, and we trace how the arguments of proponents of the oil view have evolved in response to these difficulties. Second, we challenge the notion that at least the major oil price movements can be viewed as exogenous with respect to the US macroeconomy. We examine critically the evidence that has led many economists to ascribe a central role to exogenous political events in modeling the oil market, and we provide arguments in favor of 'reverse causality' from macroeconomic variables to oil prices. Third, although none of the more recent oil price shocks has been associated with stagflation in the US economy, a major reason for the continued popularity of the oil shock hypothesis has been the perception that only oil price shocks are able to explain the US stagflation of the 1970s. We show that this is not the case.

Suggested Citation

Barsky, Robert B. and Kilian, Lutz, Oil and the Macroeconomy Since the 1970s (October 2004). NBER Working Paper No. w10855. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=611364

Robert B. Barsky (Contact Author)

Research Department, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago ( email )

230 South LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60604
United States

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics ( email )

611 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1220
United States
734-764-9476 (Phone)
734-764-2769 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Lutz Kilian

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics ( email )

611 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1220
United States
734-764-2320 (Phone)
734-764-2769 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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