Spectral analysis is a particularly valuable method for seeking dependences expressed as lags between different magnitudes. Its use in this article was first determined by the search for maximum objectivity in the observation of time series. The possibility of applying it to a large number of series was then examined. This twin requirement resulted from a desire to avoid the criticism generally levelled at statistical studies concerning cyclical movements of the economy. Spectral analysis is based on the theory of stochastic processes. It starts with the core hypothesis that a given time series consists of a large number of sinusoidal components with different frequencies (univariate spectral analysis). It makes it possible to divide a particular category of records into a set of oscillations of different frequencies and then to show the links between the components with the same frequency in the various series examined (cross-spectral or bivariate spectral analysis). It has had limited applications in cliometrics to date. It is used here to determine the frequency of GDP series of several OECD countries. A reminder of the method (I) is followed by successive examination of the various series chosen, the treatment of these series and the results of spectral analysis (II). It is then possible as a conclusion to show the prospects of this type of approach and to synthesise a completely new major result for understanding economic dynamics in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, that is to say the existence of a single intermediate cycle with 15 to 20-year frequency that calls into question or even partially contradicts previous work on economic cycles.
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