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Payment Uncertainty, the division of labor, and productivity declines in great depressions

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  • Keiichiro Kobayashi

Abstract

This paper proposes a simple model that formalizes a variant of Ohanian's (2001) conjecture explaining the productivity declines observed in the Great Depression. If a large payment shock like an asset-price collapse renders many firms insolvent, other economic agents become exposed to a higher risk of not being paid (payment uncertainty). The payment uncertainty causes endogenous disruptions of the division of labor among firms, thereby lowering macroeconomic productivity. The prediction of the model is that productivity correlates negatively with bankruptcies and positively with the cost share of intermediate inputs, which is consistent with the data from depression episodes. The model implies that the so-called failure of macroeconomic policy in the United States during the early 1930s, when a rash of bankruptcies occurred, could actually have been welfare enhancing, since the quick exit of insolvent agents can resolve payment uncertainty quickly.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI) in its series Discussion papers with number 04037.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:eti:dpaper:04037

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  1. Timothy J. Kehoe & Edward C. Prescott (), 2007. "Great depressions of the twentieth century," Monograph, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, number 2007gdott.
  2. Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2002. "Accounting for the Great Depression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 22-27, May.
  3. Olivier Blanchard & Michael Kremer, 1997. "Disorganization," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 38, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  4. Keiichiro Kobayashi & Masaru Inaba, 2006. "Business cycle accounting for the Japanese economy," 2006 Meeting Papers 313, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Dale W. Jorgenson & Kazuyuki Motohashi, 2003. "Economic Growth of Japan and the United States in the Information Age," Discussion papers 03015, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
  6. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2002. "The U.S. and U.K. Great Depressions Through the Lens of Neoclassical Growth Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 28-32, May.
  7. Kim, Sunwoong, 1989. "Labor Specialization and the Extent of the Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 692-705, June.
  8. Keiichiro Kobayashi, 2004. "Payment Uncertainty and the Productivity Slowdown," Discussion papers 04029, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
  9. Kobayashi, Keiichiro & Inaba, Masaru, 2005. "Debt disorganization in Japan," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 151-169, April.
  10. Lee E. Ohanian, 2001. "Why did productivity fall so much during the Great Depression?," Staff Report 285, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  11. Becker, G.S. & Murphy, K.M., 1991. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 92-5, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  12. Timothy Kehoe & Edward Prescott, 2002. "Data Appendix to Great Depressions of the Twentieth Century," Technical Appendices kehoe02, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  13. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2002. "Accounting for the Great Depression (technical appendix)," Working Papers 619, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  14. Basu, S., 1993. "Intermediate Goods and Business Cycles: Implications for Productivity and Welfare," Papers 93-23, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  15. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 1999. "The Great Depression in the United States from a neoclassical perspective," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 2-24.
  16. Lamont, Owen, 1995. "Corporate-Debt Overhang and Macroeconomic Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1106-17, December.
  17. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2004. "New Deal Policies and the Persistence of the Great Depression: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 779-816, August.
  18. Nobuhiro Kiyotaki & John Moore, 2004. "Credit Chains," ESE Discussion Papers 118, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
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Cited by:
  1. Juan Carlos Hatchondo & Leonardo Martinez & Horacio Sapriza, 2009. "Heterogeneous Borrowers In Quantitative Models Of Sovereign Default," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1129-1151, November.
  2. Hatchondo, Juan Carlos & Martinez, Leonardo, 2009. "Long-duration bonds and sovereign defaults," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 117-125, September.
  3. Akiyoshi, Fumio & Kobayashi, Keiichiro, 2010. "Banking crisis and productivity of borrowing firms: Evidence from Japan," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 141-150, August.
  4. Leonardo Martinez & Juan Carlos Hatchondo, 2008. "A model of credit risk without commitment," 2008 Meeting Papers 940, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. KOBAYASHI Keiichiro, 2009. "Asset-Price Collapse and Market Disruption - A model of financial crises -," Discussion papers 09045, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).

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