Working Papers

November 2008, No. 08-7

Sectoral vs. Aggregate Shocks: A Structural Factor Analysis of Industrial Production

Andrew Foerster, Pierre-Daniel G. Sarte and Mark W. Watson

This paper uses factor analytic methods to decompose industrial production (IP) into components arising from aggregate shocks and idiosyncratic sector-specific shocks. An approximate factor model finds that nearly all (90%) of the variability of quarterly growth rates in IP are associated with common factors. Because common factors may reflect sectoral shocks that have propagated by way of input-output linkages, we then use a multisector growth model to adjust for the effects of these linkages. In particular, we show that neoclassical multisector models, of the type first introduced by Long and Plosser (1983), produce an approximate factor model as a reduced form. A structural factor analysis then indicates that aggregate shocks continue to be the dominant source of variation in IP, but the importance of sectoral shocks more than doubles after the Great Moderation (to 30%). The increase in the relative importance of these shocks follows from a fall in the contribution of aggregate shocks to IP movements after 1984.


Supplementary material to this working paper.

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