Cyclicality of Uncertainty and Disagreement
The empirical literature often uses dispersion in forecasts (disagreement) as a proxy for uncertainty, yet these variables behave differently throughout the business cycle. The difference is especially salient in non-crisis periods, in which disagreement among professional forecasters in the US is positively correlated with growth, while measures of uncertainty are negatively correlated with it. This finding is explained using a noisy information model with endogenous learning. In the model, agents observe noisy private information, but only when they are active. Holding uncertainty fixed, a rise in activity introduces noisy information to the market, and agents' beliefs draw apart, i.e., disagreement rises.
Keywords: endogenous learning, business cycles, private information.
JEL Classification: D81, D83, D84, E32, E37.