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The HP-filter in cross-country comparisons
Marcet, Albert; Ravn, Morten O.
Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament d'Economia i Empresa
Many empirical studies of business cycles have followed the practise ofapplying the Hodrick-Prescott filter for cross-country comparisons. Thestandard procedure is to set the weight \lambda, which determines the'smoothness' of the trend equal to 1600. We show that if this value isused for against common wisdom about business cycles. As an example, weshow that the long recession occurred inSpain between 1975 and 1985 goesunnotoced by the HP filter. We propose a method for adjusting \lambda byreinterpreting the HP-filter as the solution to a constrained minimizationproblem. We argue that the common practice of fixing \lambda across countriesamounts to chankging the constraints on trend variability across countries.Our proposed method is easy to apply, retains all the virtues of thestandard HP-filter and when applied to Spanish data the results are inthe line with economic historian's view. Applying the method to a numberof OECD countries we find that, with the exception of Spain, Italy andJapan, the standard choice of \lambda=1600 is sensible.
Macroeconomics and International Economics
business cycles
cross-country comparisons
macroeconomic volatility
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