This chart suggests that earnings sure are cyclical

via Chart of the Day

Category: Digital Media, Earnings, Technical Analysis

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One Response to “Earnings Cyclicality”

  1. KJ Foehr says:

    Where is the “Great moderation”? I don’t see evidence of it on that chart.
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    Remarks by Governor Ben S. Bernanke
    At the meetings of the Eastern Economic Association, Washington, DC
    February 20, 2004
    (**** added for emphasis)

    The Great Moderation

    One of the most striking features of the economic landscape over the past twenty years or so has been a substantial decline in macroeconomic volatility. In a recent article, Olivier Blanchard and John Simon (2001) documented that the variability of quarterly growth in real output (as measured by its standard deviation) has declined by half since the mid-1980s, while the variability of quarterly inflation has declined by about two thirds. Several writers on the topic have dubbed this remarkable decline in the variability of both output and inflation “the Great Moderation.” ****Similar declines in the volatility of output and inflation occurred at about the same time in other major industrial countries, with the recent exception of Japan, a country that has faced a distinctive set of economic problems in the past decade.****

    … Why has macroeconomic volatility declined? Three types of explanations have been suggested for this dramatic change; for brevity, I will refer to these classes of explanations as structural change, improved macroeconomic policies, and good luck. Explanations focusing on structural change suggest that changes in economic institutions, technology, business practices, or other structural features of the economy have improved the ability of the economy to absorb shocks. Some economists have argued, for example, that improved management of business inventories, made possible by advances in computation and communication, has reduced the amplitude of fluctuations in inventory stocks, which in earlier decades played an important role in cyclical fluctuations. The increased depth and sophistication of financial markets, deregulation in many industries, the shift away from manufacturing toward services, and increased openness to trade and international capital flows are other examples of structural changes that may have increased macroeconomic flexibility and stability.

    … If instead the Great Moderation was the result of structural change or improved policymaking, then the increase in stability should be more likely to persist, assuming of course that policymakers do not forget the lessons of history.

    My view is that improvements in monetary policy, though certainly not the only factor, have probably been an important source of the Great Moderation. …

    Conclusion

    The Great Moderation, the substantial decline in macroeconomic volatility over the past twenty years, is a striking economic development. Whether the dominant cause of the Great Moderation is structural change, improved monetary policy, or simply good luck is an important question about which no consensus has yet formed. I have argued today that improved monetary policy has likely made an important contribution not only to the reduced volatility of inflation (which is not particularly controversial) but to the reduced volatility of output as well. ****Moreover, because a change in the monetary policy regime has pervasive effects, I have suggested that some of the effects of improved monetary policies may have been misidentified as exogenous changes in economic structure or in the distribution of economic shocks. This conclusion on my part makes me optimistic for the future, because I am confident that monetary policymakers will not forget the lessons of the 1970s.****

    I have put my case for better monetary policy rather forcefully today, because I think it likely that the policy explanation for the Great Moderation deserves more credit than it has received in the literature. …
    http://www.federalreserve.gov/BOARDDOCS/SPEECHES/2004/20040220/default.htm

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    It appears Ben was wrong; structural changes (supply side / deregulating / free-market economics, plus inferior, not improved, monetary policy caused the “the Great Moderation”, and that directly caused the Great Recession.