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The Output Gap, the Labor Wedge, and the Dynamic Behavior of Hours

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  • Sala, Luca
  • Söderström, Ulf
  • Trigari, Antonella

Abstract

We use a standard quantitative business cycle model with nominal price and wage rigidities to estimate two measures of economic inefficiency in recent U.S. data: the output gap---the gap between the actual and efficient levels of output---and the labor wedge---the wedge between households' marginal rate of substitution and firms' marginal product of labor. We establish three results. (i) The output gap and the labor wedge are closely related, suggesting that most inefficiencies in output are due to the inefficient allocation of labor. (ii) The estimates are sensitive to the structural interpretation of shocks to the labor market, which is ambiguous in the model. (iii) Movements in hours worked are essentially exogenous, directly driven by labor market shocks, whereas wage rigidities generate a markup of the real wage over the marginal rate of substitution that is acyclical. We conclude that the model fails in two important respects: it does not give clear guidance concerning the efficiency of business cycle fluctuations, and it provides an unsatisfactory explanation of labor market and business cycle dynamics.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8005.

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Date of creation: Sep 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8005

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Keywords: Business cycles; Efficiency; Labor markets; Monetary policy;

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References

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  1. Roman Sustek, 2011. "Monetary Business Cycle Accounting," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(4), pages 592-612, October.
  2. Michael T. Kiley, 2010. "Output gaps," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-27, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Alejandro Justiniano & Giorgio E. Primiceri & Andrea Tambalotti, 2008. "Investment shocks and business cycles," Staff Reports 322, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  4. Altig, David E & Christiano, Lawrence J. & Eichenbaum, Martin & Lindé, Jesper, 2005. "Firm-Specific Capital, Nominal Rigidities and the Business Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 4858, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Günter Coenen & Frank Smets & Igor Vetlov, 2009. "Estimation of the Euro Area Output Gap Using the NAWM," Bank of Lithuania Working Paper Series 5, Bank of Lithuania.
  6. Noah Williams & Andrew Levin & Alexei Onatski, 2005. "Monetary Policy under Uncertainty in Micro-Founded Macroeconometric Models," Computing in Economics and Finance 2005 478, Society for Computational Economics.
  7. Christiano, Lawrence J. & Trabrandt, Mathias & Walentin, Karl, 2010. "Involuntary Unemployment and the Business Cycle," Working Paper Series 238, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden), revised 01 Jun 2012.
  8. Neiss, Katharine & Nelson, Edward, 2001. "The Real Interest rate Gap as an Inflation Indicator," CEPR Discussion Papers 2848, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Jean Boivin & Marc Giannoni, 2006. "DSGE Models in a Data-Rich Environment," NBER Technical Working Papers 0332, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Sala, Luca & Söderström, Ulf & Trigari, Antonella, 2008. "Monetary policy under uncertainty in an estimated model with labor market frictions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(5), pages 983-1006, July.
  11. Malin Adolfson & Stefan Laséen & Jesper Lindé & Lars E.O. Svensson, 2008. "Optimal Monetary Policy in an Operational Medium-Sized DSGE Model," NBER Working Papers 14092, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Luca Sala & Antonella Trigari & Mark Gertler, 2007. "An Estimated Monetary DSGE Model with Unemployment and Staggered Nominal Wage Bargaining," 2007 Meeting Papers 353, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  13. David Altig & Lawrence Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Jesper Linde, 2005. "Online Appendix to "Firm-Specific Capital, Nominal Rigidities and the Business Cycle"," Technical Appendices 09-191, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  14. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 2009. "What do we know (and not know) about potential output?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 187-214.
  15. Edge, Rochelle M. & Kiley, Michael T. & Laforte, Jean-Philippe, 2008. "Natural rate measures in an estimated DSGE model of the U.S. economy," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 2512-2535, August.
  16. Jermann, Urban & Quadrini, Vincenzo, 2009. "Macroeconomic Effects of Financial Shocks," CEPR Discussion Papers 7451, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. James R. Spletzer & Katharine G. Abraham & Jay C. Stewart, 1999. "Why Do Different Wage Series Tell Different Stories?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 34-39, May.
  18. Andrew Levin & Christopher J. Erceg & Dale W. Henderson, 1999. "Optimal Monetary Policy with Staggered Wage and Price Contracts," Computing in Economics and Finance 1999 1151, Society for Computational Economics.
  19. Gregory de Walque & Frank Smets & Raf Wouters, 2006. "Price Shocks in General Equilibrium: Alternative Specifications," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 52(1), pages 153-176, March.
  20. Katharine Neiss & Edward Nelson, 2002. "Inflation dynamics, marginal cost, and the output gap: evidence from three countries," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Mar.
  21. Giorgio Primiceri & Alejandro Justiniano, 2009. "Potential and natural output," 2009 Meeting Papers 25, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Luca Sala, 2013. "DSGE models in the frequency domain," Working Papers 504, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  2. Jordi Galí & Frank Smets & Rafael Wouters, 2011. "Unemployment in an estimated new Keynesian model," Economics Working Papers 1266, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jun 2011.
  3. Nicolas Groshenny, 2010. "Monetary Policy, Inflation and Unemployment In Defense of the Federal Reserve," CAMA Working Papers 2010-37, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.

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