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Laura Nowzohour

12 September 2017
Economists, observers and policy-makers often emphasize the role of sentiment as a potential driver of the business cycle. In this paper we provide three contributions to this debate. First, we give a concise overview of the recent literature on sentiment (considering both confidence and uncertainty) and economic activity. Second, we review existing empirical measures of sentiment, in particular consumer confidence, stock market volatility (SMV) and Economic Policy Uncertainty (EPU), on monthly data for 27 countries, 1985-2016. Third, we identify some new stylized facts based on international evidence. While different measures are surprisingly lowly correlated on average in each country, they are typically highly positively correlated across countries, suggesting the existence of a global factor. Consumer confidence has the closest co-movement with economic and financial variables, and most of the correlations are contemporaneous or forward-looking, consistent with the view that economic sentiment is indeed a driver of activity.
JEL Code
E32 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Business Fluctuations, Cycles
E71 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics
F44 : International Economics→Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance→International Business Cycles
G15 : Financial Economics→General Financial Markets→International Financial Markets
G41 : Financial Economics