Synchronization of world economic activity

Common dynamical properties of business cycle fluctuations are studied in a sample of more than 100 countries that represent economic regions from all around the world. We apply the methodology of multivariate singular spectrum analysis (M-SSA) to identify oscillatory modes and to detect whether these modes are shared by clusters of phase- and frequency-locked oscillators. An extension of the M-SSA approach is introduced to help analyze structural changes in the cluster configuration of synchronization. With this novel technique, we are able to identify a common mode of business cycle activity across our sample, and thus point to the existence of a world business cycle. Superimposed on this mode, we further identify several major events that have markedly influenced the landscape of world economic activity in the postwar era. These findings raise therefore questions about assessments of climate change impacts that are based purely on long-term economic growth models. A key conclusion is the importance of endogenous-dynamics effects at the interface between natural climate variability and economic fluctuations.