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

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  • Luca Sala
  • Ulf Soderstrom
  • Antonella Trigari

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 effcient 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 inecient 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 eciency of business cycle fluctations, and it provides an unsatisfactory explanation of labor market and business cycle dynamics.

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Paper provided by IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University in its series Working Papers with number 365.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:365

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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. 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.
  3. Alejandro Justiniano & Giorgio E. Primiceri & Andrea Tambalotti, 2009. "Investment Shocks and Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 15570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Andrew T. Levin & Alexei Onatski & John Williams & Noah M. Williams, 2006. "Monetary Policy Under Uncertainty in Micro-Founded Macroeconometric Models," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2005, Volume 20, pages 229-312 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Lawrence J. Christiano & Mathias Trabandt & Karl Walentin, 2010. "Involuntary Unemployment and the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 15801, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. David Altig & Lawrence Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Jesper Linde, 2005. "Firm-Specific Capital, Nominal Rigidities and the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 11034, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Katharine S. Neiss and Edward Nelson, 2001. "The Real Interest Rate Gap as an Inflation Indicator," Computing in Economics and Finance 2001 145, Society for Computational Economics.
  8. Malin Adolfson & Stefan Laséen & Jesper Lindé & Lars E.O. Svensson, 2011. "Optimal Monetary Policy in an Operational Medium‐Sized DSGE Model," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 43(7), pages 1287-1331, October.
  9. 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.
  10. Giorgio Primiceri & Alejandro Justiniano, 2009. "Potential and natural output," 2009 Meeting Papers 25, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  11. Michael T. Kiley, 2010. "Output gaps," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-27, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  12. Mark Gertler & Luca Sala & Antonella Trigari, 2008. "An Estimated Monetary DSGE Model with Unemployment and Staggered Nominal Wage Bargaining," Working Papers 341, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  13. Erceg, Christopher J. & Henderson, Dale W. & Levin, Andrew T., 2000. "Optimal monetary policy with staggered wage and price contracts," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 281-313, October.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Jermann, Urban & Quadrini, Vincenzo, 2009. "Macroeconomic Effects of Financial Shocks," CEPR Discussion Papers 7451, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  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. Jean Boivin & Marc Giannoni, 2006. "DSGE Models in a Data-Rich Environment," NBER Working Papers 12772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. 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.
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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," 2010 Meeting Papers 676, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  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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