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Abstract

This study takes a fresh look at the nature of financial and real business cycles in OECD countries using annual data series and shorter quarterly economic indicators. It first analyses whether the last cycle has been different compared to previous cycles in terms of length, amplitude, asymmetry and changes of these parameters during expansions and contractions. We also study the degree of economic and financial cycle synchronization between OECD countries but also of economic and financial variables within a given country and gauge the extent to which cycle synchronization changed over time. We next describe the connection between the great moderation and the last cycle. Finally, the study discusses the synchronization between the real economy and the financial sector and provides some new evidence on the banking sector's pro-cyclicality by using aggregate and bank level. The main findings show that the amplitude of the real business cycle was becoming smaller during the great moderation, but asset price cycles were becoming more volatile. In part, this was linked to developments in the banking sector which tended to accentuate pro-cyclical behaviour. Greater synchronization of cycles may help explain the severity of the crisis.