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Extra info for A Lexicon of Economics (Social Science Lexicons)
The equilibrium theory of the business cycle assumes that economic agents are endowed with ‘rational expectations’ but must make decisions based on inadequate information about whether price changes are purely inflationary, so that no real response is required, or whether they indicate a profitable opportunity. In models based on this theory, systematic anti-cyclical monetary policy can have no effect, and the only contribution the government can make is to reduce the shocks to the economy by pursuing a systematic monetary policy.
In this case, business cycles will be analysed as growth cycles, with alternating rapid growth expansionary 32 BUSINESS CYCLES phases and slower growth contractionary phases (or recessions) during the upswing of the long wave; while during the downswing of the long wave they will involve periods of positive growth in the expansionary phase followed by periods of zero or negative growth in the contractionary phase (or depression). There has been some debate about whether business cycles are systematic economic fluctuations, or whether they are instead purely random fluctuations in economic activity.
There have been exceptions to this general modelling strategy that have used nonlinear equation systems capable of generating—in the absence of shocks—selfsustaining ‘limit cycles’. These can be stable and self-repeating even in the face of shocks, which merely impart some additional irregularity. Such contributions have been relatively BUSINESS CYCLES 33 rare but may become more common as economists increasingly familiarize themselves with nonlinear techniques of mathematical and statistical analysis.