NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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A Review of Cyclical Indicators for the United States: Preliminary Results

Victor Zarnowitz

NBER Working Paper No. 6
Issued in July 1973

This paper represents a very early progress report on a new study of business cycle indicators for the United States. Our host organization, CIRET, is concerned with research on surveys of economic tendencies that cover broad areas of business, investment, and consumer behavior. These inquiries yield mainly qualitative data on plans and expectations of economic decision-making units. Such data are aggregated and also in a sense quantified in form of diffusion indexes (the Ifo Business Test and its components may serve as examples), but they are basically limited to showing only the direction and not the size of changes in the economic variables covered. A major purpose of compiling and analyzing these diffusion measures is to improve prediction of cyclical movements in business activity. This objective is the same as that pursued in the National Bureau studies of quantitative business cycle indicators -- the latest of which is the project to be discussed in this paper. Appraisals of the predictive records and potentials of these two time series data sets (the cyclical indicators and the expectational diffusion indexes) are therefore definitely an appropriate subject for consideration in this conference.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w0006

Published: (Published as "Recent Work on Business Cycles in Historical Perspective: A Review of Theories and Evidence") Journal of Economic Literature, Vol. 23,no. 2 (1985): 523-580.

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