Econometrica: Mar 2013, Volume 81, Issue 2

p. 739-779

George‐Marios Angeletos, Jennifer La'O

This paper develops a new theory of fluctuations—one that helps accommodate the notions of “animal spirits” and “market sentiment” in unique‐equilibrium, rational‐expectations, macroeconomic models. To this goal, we limit the communication that is embedded in a neoclassical economy by allowing trading to be random and decentralized. We then show that the business cycle may be driven by a certain type of extrinsic shocks which we call . These shocks formalize shifts in expectations of economic activity without shifts in the underlying preferences and technologies; they are akin to sunspots, but operate in unique‐equilibrium models. We further show how communication may help propagate these shocks in a way that resembles the spread of fads and rumors and that gives rise to boom‐and‐bust phenomena. We finally illustrate the quantitative potential of our insights within a variant of the RBC model.

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