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The great diversification and its undoing
Carvalho, Vasco; Gabaix, Xavier
Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament d'Economia i Empresa
We investigate the hypothesis that macroeconomic fluctuations are primitively theresults of many microeconomic shocks, and show that it has significant explanatorypower for the evolution of macroeconomic volatility. We define ?fundamental? volatilityas the volatility that would arise from an economy made entirely of idiosyncratic microeconomicshocks, occurring primitively at the level of sectors or firms. In its empiricalconstruction, motivated by a simple model, the sales share of different sectors vary overtime (in a way we directly measure), while the volatility of those sectors remains constant.We find that fundamental volatility accounts for the swings in macroeconomicvolatility in the US and the other major world economies in the past half century. Itaccounts for the ?great moderation? and its undoing. Controlling for our measure offundamental volatility, there is no break in output volatility. The initial great moderationis due to a decreasing share of manufacturing between 1975 and 1985. The recentrise of macroeconomic volatility is due to the increase of the size of the financial sector.We provide a model to think quantitatively about the large comovement generated byidiosyncratic shocks. As the origin of aggregate shocks can be traced to identifiablemicroeconomic shocks, we may better understand the origins of aggregate fluctuations.
Macroeconomics and International Economics
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