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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. Mark Gertler & Luca Sala & Antonella Trigari, 2008. "An Estimated Monetary DSGE Model with Unemployment and Staggered Nominal Wage Bargaining," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 40(8), pages 1713-1764, December.
  2. Neiss, Katharine S. & Nelson, Edward, 2003. "The Real-Interest-Rate Gap As An Inflation Indicator," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 239-262, April.
  3. Rochelle M. Edge & Michael T. Kiley & Jean-Philippe Laforte, 2007. "Natural rate measures in an estimated DSGE model of the U.S. economy," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-08, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Adolfson, Malin & Laséen, Stefan & Lindé, Jesper & Svensson, Lars E O, 2008. "Optimal Monetary Policy in an Operational Medium-Sized DSGE Model," CEPR Discussion Papers 6907, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Mathias Trabandt & Karl Walentin & Lawrence J. Christiano, 2010. "Involuntary Unemployment and the Business Cycle," 2010 Meeting Papers 129, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Alejandro Justiniano & Giorgio E. Primiceri & Andrea Tambalotti, 2008. "Investment shocks and business cycles," Working Paper Series WP-08-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  9. Kiley, Michael T., 2013. "Output gaps," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 1-18.
  10. Jermann, Urban & Quadrini, Vincenzo, 2009. "Macroeconomic Effects of Financial Shocks," CEPR Discussion Papers 7451, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Sala, Luca & Söderström, Ulf & Trigari, Antonella, 2008. "Monetary Policy Under Uncertainty in an Estimated Model with Labour Market Frictions," CEPR Discussion Papers 6826, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Marc P. Giannoni & Jean Boivin, 2005. "DSGE Models in a Data-Rich Environment," Computing in Economics and Finance 2005 431, Society for Computational Economics.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 2009. "What do we know and not know about potential output?," Working Paper Series 2009-05, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  16. David E. Altig & Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Jesper Linde, 2004. "Firm-specific capital, nominal rigidities, and the business cycle," Working Paper 0416, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  17. Giorgio Primiceri & Alejandro Justiniano, 2009. "Potential and natural output," 2009 Meeting Papers 25, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. Rafael Wouters & Frank Smets & Jordi Gali, 2011. "Unemployment in an Estimated New Keynesian model," 2011 Meeting Papers 1451, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. 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.
  3. Luca Sala, 2013. "DSGE models in the frequency domain," Working Papers 504, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.

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