The volatility of U.S. real GDP growth since 1984 has been markedlylowerthanoverthepreviousquartercentury.Weutilizefrequency-domain and VAR methods to distinguish among competing explanations for this reduction: improvements in monetary policy, better business practices, and a fortuitous reduction in exogenous disturbances. We find that reduced innovation variances account for much of the decline in aggregate output volatility, suggesting that good luck is the most likely explanation. Good practices and good policy appear to have played a more important role in explaining the post-1984 decline in the volatility of consumer price inflation.

This content is only available as a PDF.