Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 January 2020
We analyse TFP growth in the US business sector using a basic unobserved component model where trend growth follows a random walk and the noise is a first order autoregression. This is fitted using a Kalman-filter methodology. We find that trend TFP growth has declined steadily from 1.5 to 1.0 per cent per year over the past 50 years. Nevertheless, recent trends are not a good guide to actual medium-term TFP growth. This exhibits substantial variations and is quite unpredictable. Techno-optimists should not give best to productivity pessimists simply because recent TFP growth has been weak.
We thank Michael McMahon, Nicholas Oulton and an anonymous referee for helpful comments and John Fernald for sharing his data with us. The usual disclaimer applies.