Économie et Statistique n° 359-360 - Business Cycle Report
Sector Business Cycles and Short-Run Business Forecasting: the Contribution of the Economic Survey of Services.
The strong predominance of industrial statistics and the scarcity of figures on other sectors (especially services) have long led cyclical economists to make their diag-noses based essentially on economic fluctuations in industry. This practice has tended to persist despite the gradual broadening of the range of sectors covered by short-run statistics. Although there is no denying the importance of tracking industrial cycles to cyclical economists, the economic surveys in the other activity sectors make an appreciable contribution in terms of early information on growth. The imperfect homogeneity of the sectors' economic fluctuations is such that a comparison of the findings of qualitative surveys of the different activity sectors rounds out and often qualifies the impressions gleaned from studying solely the industrial business cycle. More specifically, a causality study shows that some ba-lances of opinion taken from the economic survey of services provide advanced information on economic activity, which supplements the information provided by the balances of opinion taken from the correspon-ding survey of industry. This finding could be due to the fact that services are less sensitive to the international economy and stock variations. In any case, the infor-mation specifically contained in the services survey data can be put to good use to draw up short-run fore-casts of the GDP growth rate. Likewise, some balances of opinion drawn from service businesses' answers help identify the turnaround points in the French economy as a whole. Surveys of other sectors (trade and construction) contain early information on more specific macroeconomic aggregates: consumption, investment,production and sector-based employee figures.