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Principles of Finance

3.3 Business Cycles and Economic Activity

Principles of Finance3.3 Business Cycles and Economic Activity

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Table of contents
  1. Preface
  2. 1 Introduction to Finance
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 1.1 What Is Finance?
    3. 1.2 The Role of Finance in an Organization
    4. 1.3 Importance of Data and Technology
    5. 1.4 Careers in Finance
    6. 1.5 Markets and Participants
    7. 1.6 Microeconomic and Macroeconomic Matters
    8. 1.7 Financial Instruments
    9. 1.8 Concepts of Time and Value
    10. Summary
    11. Key Terms
    12. Multiple Choice
    13. Review Questions
    14. Video Activity
  3. 2 Corporate Structure and Governance
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 2.1 Business Structures
    3. 2.2 Relationship between Shareholders and Company Management
    4. 2.3 Role of the Board of Directors
    5. 2.4 Agency Issues: Shareholders and Corporate Boards
    6. 2.5 Interacting with Investors, Intermediaries, and Other Market Participants
    7. 2.6 Companies in Domestic and Global Markets
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. CFA Institute
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Review Questions
    13. Video Activity
  4. 3 Economic Foundations: Money and Rates
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 3.1 Microeconomics
    3. 3.2 Macroeconomics
    4. 3.3 Business Cycles and Economic Activity
    5. 3.4 Interest Rates
    6. 3.5 Foreign Exchange Rates
    7. 3.6 Sources and Characteristics of Economic Data
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. CFA Institute
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Review Questions
    13. Problems
    14. Video Activity
  5. 4 Accrual Accounting Process
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 4.1 Cash versus Accrual Accounting
    3. 4.2 Economic Basis for Accrual Accounting
    4. 4.3 How Does a Company Recognize a Sale and an Expense?
    5. 4.4 When Should a Company Capitalize or Expense an Item?
    6. 4.5 What Is “Profit” versus “Loss” for the Company?
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Review Questions
    11. Problems
    12. Video Activity
  6. 5 Financial Statements
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 5.1 The Income Statement
    3. 5.2 The Balance Sheet
    4. 5.3 The Relationship between the Balance Sheet and the Income Statement
    5. 5.4 The Statement of Owner’s Equity
    6. 5.5 The Statement of Cash Flows
    7. 5.6 Operating Cash Flow and Free Cash Flow to the Firm (FCFF)
    8. 5.7 Common-Size Statements
    9. 5.8 Reporting Financial Activity
    10. Summary
    11. Key Terms
    12. CFA Institute
    13. Multiple Choice
    14. Review Questions
    15. Problems
    16. Video Activity
  7. 6 Measures of Financial Health
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 6.1 Ratios: Condensing Information into Smaller Pieces
    3. 6.2 Operating Efficiency Ratios
    4. 6.3 Liquidity Ratios
    5. 6.4 Solvency Ratios
    6. 6.5 Market Value Ratios
    7. 6.6 Profitability Ratios and the DuPont Method
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. CFA Institute
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Review Questions
    13. Problems
    14. Video Activity
  8. 7 Time Value of Money I: Single Payment Value
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 7.1 Now versus Later Concepts
    3. 7.2 Time Value of Money (TVM) Basics
    4. 7.3 Methods for Solving Time Value of Money Problems
    5. 7.4 Applications of TVM in Finance
    6. Summary
    7. Key Terms
    8. CFA Institute
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Review Questions
    11. Problems
    12. Video Activity
  9. 8 Time Value of Money II: Equal Multiple Payments
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 8.1 Perpetuities
    3. 8.2 Annuities
    4. 8.3 Loan Amortization
    5. 8.4 Stated versus Effective Rates
    6. 8.5 Equal Payments with a Financial Calculator and Excel
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. CFA Institute
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Problems
    12. Video Activity
  10. 9 Time Value of Money III: Unequal Multiple Payment Values
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 9.1 Timing of Cash Flows
    3. 9.2 Unequal Payments Using a Financial Calculator or Microsoft Excel
    4. Summary
    5. Key Terms
    6. CFA Institute
    7. Multiple Choice
    8. Review Questions
    9. Problems
    10. Video Activity
  11. 10 Bonds and Bond Valuation
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 10.1 Characteristics of Bonds
    3. 10.2 Bond Valuation
    4. 10.3 Using the Yield Curve
    5. 10.4 Risks of Interest Rates and Default
    6. 10.5 Using Spreadsheets to Solve Bond Problems
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. CFA Institute
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Review Questions
    12. Problems
    13. Video Activity
  12. 11 Stocks and Stock Valuation
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 11.1 Multiple Approaches to Stock Valuation
    3. 11.2 Dividend Discount Models (DDMs)
    4. 11.3 Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) Model
    5. 11.4 Preferred Stock
    6. 11.5 Efficient Markets
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. CFA Institute
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Review Questions
    12. Problems
    13. Video Activity
  13. 12 Historical Performance of US Markets
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 12.1 Overview of US Financial Markets
    3. 12.2 Historical Picture of Inflation
    4. 12.3 Historical Picture of Returns to Bonds
    5. 12.4 Historical Picture of Returns to Stocks
    6. Summary
    7. Key Terms
    8. Multiple Choice
    9. Review Questions
    10. Video Activity
  14. 13 Statistical Analysis in Finance
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 13.1 Measures of Center
    3. 13.2 Measures of Spread
    4. 13.3 Measures of Position
    5. 13.4 Statistical Distributions
    6. 13.5 Probability Distributions
    7. 13.6 Data Visualization and Graphical Displays
    8. 13.7 The R Statistical Analysis Tool
    9. Summary
    10. Key Terms
    11. CFA Institute
    12. Multiple Choice
    13. Review Questions
    14. Problems
    15. Video Activity
  15. 14 Regression Analysis in Finance
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 14.1 Correlation Analysis
    3. 14.2 Linear Regression Analysis
    4. 14.3 Best-Fit Linear Model
    5. 14.4 Regression Applications in Finance
    6. 14.5 Predictions and Prediction Intervals
    7. 14.6 Use of R Statistical Analysis Tool for Regression Analysis
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Review Questions
    12. Problems
    13. Video Activity
  16. 15 How to Think about Investing
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 15.1 Risk and Return to an Individual Asset
    3. 15.2 Risk and Return to Multiple Assets
    4. 15.3 The Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM)
    5. 15.4 Applications in Performance Measurement
    6. 15.5 Using Excel to Make Investment Decisions
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. CFA Institute
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Review Questions
    12. Problems
    13. Video Activity
  17. 16 How Companies Think about Investing
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 16.1 Payback Period Method
    3. 16.2 Net Present Value (NPV) Method
    4. 16.3 Internal Rate of Return (IRR) Method
    5. 16.4 Alternative Methods
    6. 16.5 Choosing between Projects
    7. 16.6 Using Excel to Make Company Investment Decisions
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. CFA Institute
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Review Questions
    13. Problems
    14. Video Activity
  18. 17 How Firms Raise Capital
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 17.1 The Concept of Capital Structure
    3. 17.2 The Costs of Debt and Equity Capital
    4. 17.3 Calculating the Weighted Average Cost of Capital
    5. 17.4 Capital Structure Choices
    6. 17.5 Optimal Capital Structure
    7. 17.6 Alternative Sources of Funds
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. CFA Institute
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Review Questions
    13. Problems
    14. Video Activity
  19. 18 Financial Forecasting
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 18.1 The Importance of Forecasting
    3. 18.2 Forecasting Sales
    4. 18.3 Pro Forma Financials
    5. 18.4 Generating the Complete Forecast
    6. 18.5 Forecasting Cash Flow and Assessing the Value of Growth
    7. 18.6 Using Excel to Create the Long-Term Forecast
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Review Questions
    12. Problems
    13. Video Activity
  20. 19 The Importance of Trade Credit and Working Capital in Planning
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 19.1 What Is Working Capital?
    3. 19.2 What Is Trade Credit?
    4. 19.3 Cash Management
    5. 19.4 Receivables Management
    6. 19.5 Inventory Management
    7. 19.6 Using Excel to Create the Short-Term Plan
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Review Questions
    12. Video Activity
  21. 20 Risk Management and the Financial Manager
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 20.1 The Importance of Risk Management
    3. 20.2 Commodity Price Risk
    4. 20.3 Exchange Rates and Risk
    5. 20.4 Interest Rate Risk
    6. Summary
    7. Key Terms
    8. CFA Institute
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Review Questions
    11. Problems
    12. Video Activity
  22. Index

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Outline the stages of the business cycle.
  • Identify recessionary and expansionary periods.

What Is the Business Cycle?

Although the US economy has grown significantly over time, as seen in Figure 3.12, the growth has not occurred at a constant, consistent pace. At times, the economy has experienced faster-than-average growth, and occasionally the economy has experienced negative growth.

The percentage change in real GDP for each quarter is shown in Figure 3.13. For any quarter in which real GDP is growing, the percentage change will be positive. When the growth rate of real GDP is negative, the economy is shrinking.

A line graph shows the Quarterly Percentage Change in U.S. Real GDP from 1950 through 2020. Recessions are shown by shading in the graph and have occurred 11 times. During all recessions, there is a negative percent change in real GDP. 2020 shows the largest decrease in real GDP, at almost negative 10%, although no recession is indicated. This is quickly followed by the largest increase in real GDP, at 7.5% increase.
Figure 3.13 Quarterly Percentage Change in US Real GDP with Shading Representing Recessions7

Figure 3.14 is an illustration of the growth of GDP over time. There has been a definitive long-term upward trend in GDP, but it has not been in a straight line. Instead, the economy has expanded much like the curve; periods of quick growth are followed by slower or even negative growth. These alternating growth periods are known as the business cycle.

A line graph shows how GDP has increased over time. It compares the business cycle to the long run trend.
Figure 3.14 Growth of GDP and the Business Cycle

Stages of the Business Cycle

The business cycle consists of a period of economic expansion followed by a period of economic contraction. During the period of economic expansion, GDP rises. Employment expands as businesses produce more; conversely, unemployment falls. Other measures of economic growth may include increased new business starts and new home construction. The economy is said to be “heating up.” As the expansion continues, inflation often becomes a concern.

Fast-paced economic expansion is not sustainable. Eventually, growth slows and unemployment rises. The economy has moved from expansion to contraction when this occurs. The point at which the business cycle turns from expansion to contraction is known as the peak. The point at which the contraction ends and the economy begins to expand again is known as the trough. The length of one business cycle is measured by the time from one trough to the trough of the next cycle, as shown in Figure 3.15.

A line graph shows the stages of business . The line starts low on the graph. This is labelled the trough. The line slopes upward until it hits its highest point. The uplward slope of the line is labelled the expansion and the highest point is labelled the peak. The line then slpes downward until it reaches another low point. The downard slope is labelled the contrraction and the low point is labelled the trough. There is a dotted line going from the first trough to the second; this dotted line is labelled one cycle.
Figure 3.15 Stages of the Business Cycle

Often, the contraction is referred to as a recession. A private think tank, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), tracks the business cycle in the United States. The NBER is the entity that officially declares recessions in the United States. Historically, a recession was defined as two consecutive quarters of declining GDP. Today, the NBER defines a recession in a broader, less precise manner; it will declare a recession when there is a significant decline in economic activity that is spread across the economy and lasts for at least a few months.8 Measures of real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale and retail sales are considered in addition to real GDP.

Historical Trends

The NBER has identified business cycle peaks and troughs in data going back to the mid-19th century. Figure 3.16 lists each of these cycles, denoting the months of peaks and troughs. We see a repetition of the economic behavior—an expansion, a peak, a recession, and a trough, followed by yet another expansion, peak, recession, and trough. The cycles are events that repeatedly occur in the same order.

Table showing data of peaks and trough months of historical business cycles from Dec 1854 to Feb 2020.
Figure 3.16 Peak and Trough Months of Historical Business Cycles (source: National Bureau of Economic Research)

However, the cycles are not identical; the lengths of the cycles vary greatly. On average, the contractions have lasted about 17 months and expansions have lasted about 41 months. The typical business cycle has been about 4.5 years long.

At the time of this writing, the United States is in an economic recession.9 The previous trough was in June 2009. From the summer of 2009 through February 2020, the US economy was in the expansionary phase of the business cycle. This expansion peaked in February 2020, when the economy fell into a contractionary period associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. This 128-month expansion is the longest expansion in US history. Only two other expansions have lasted for over 100 months: the 120-month expansion that ran through the 1990s and the 106-month expansion that ran during the 1960s. The longest recessionary period on record is the 65-month recession that occurred during the 1870s. The recession that began in 1929 was the second-longest recession in US history. At 43 months long, this recession that ended in 1933 was so severe that it has been called the Great Depression.10

Footnotes

  • 7Data from US Bureau of Economic Analysis. “Gross Domestic Product (GDP).” FRED. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed July 7, 2021. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/GDP
  • 8National Bureau of Economic Research. “Business Cycle Dating Committee Announcements.” July 19, 2021. https://www.nber.org/research/business-cycle-dating/business-cycle-dating-committee-announcements
  • 9National Bureau of Economic Research. “Business Cycle Dating Committee Announcements.” July 19, 2021. https://www.nber.org/research/business-cycle-dating/business-cycle-dating-committee-announcements
  • 10National Bureau of Economic Research. “US Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions.” Last updated July 19, 2021. https://www.nber.org/research/data/us-business-cycle-expansions-and-contractions
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