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What explains high unemployment? The aggregate demand channel

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  • Atif R. Mian
  • Amir Sufi

Abstract

A drop in aggregate demand driven by shocks to household balance sheets is responsible for a large fraction of the decline in U.S. employment from 2007 to 2009. The aggregate demand channel for unemployment predicts that employment losses in the non-tradable sector are higher in high leverage U.S. counties that were most severely impacted by the balance sheet shock, while losses in the tradable sector are distributed uniformly across all counties. We find exactly this pattern from 2007 to 2009. Alternative hypotheses for job losses based on uncertainty shocks or structural unemployment related to construction do not explain our results. Using the relation between non-tradable sector job losses and demand shocks and assuming Cobb-Douglas preferences over tradable and non-tradable goods, we quantify the effect of aggregate demand channel on total employment. Our estimates suggest that the decline in aggregate demand driven by household balance sheet shocks accounts for almost 4 million of the lost jobs from 2007 to 2009, or 65% of the lost jobs in our data.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17830.

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Date of creation: Feb 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17830

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References

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  1. Midrigan, Virgiliu & Philippon, Thomas, 2011. "Household Leverage and the Recession," CEPR Discussion Papers 8381, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2009. "The Consequences of Mortgage Credit Expansion: Evidence from the U.S. Mortgage Default Crisis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1449-1496, November.
  3. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "Regional Evolutions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1), pages 1-76.
  4. Nicholas Bloom, 2009. "The Impact of Uncertainty Shocks," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(3), pages 623-685, 05.
  5. Robert E. Hall, 2011. "The Long Slump," NBER Working Papers 16741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Guido Lorenzoni & Veronica Guerrieri, 2011. "Credit Crises, Precautionary Savings and the Liquidity Trap," 2011 Meeting Papers 1414, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Albert Saiz, 2010. "The Geographic Determinants of Housing Supply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1253-1296, August.
  8. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2011. "House Prices, Home Equity-Based Borrowing, and the US Household Leverage Crisis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2132-56, August.
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  1. Still Riding the GSE Train
    by Kim Schoenholtz in Money, Banking and Financial Markets on 2014-05-05 13:16:46
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Cited by:
  1. William R. White, 2012. "Ultra easy monetary policy and the law of unintended consequences," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 126, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  2. Sumit Agarwal & Gene Amromin & Itzhak Ben-David & Souphala Chomsisengphet & Tomasz Piskorski & Amit Seru, 2012. "Policy Intervention in Debt Renegotiation: Evidence from the Home Affordable Modification Program," NBER Working Papers 18311, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gelain, Paolo & Lansing, Kevin J. & Mendicino, Caterina, 2012. "House Prices, Credit Growth, and Excess Volatility: Implications for Monetary and Macroprudential Policy," Dynare Working Papers 21, CEPREMAP.
  4. Luca Fornaro, 2013. "International Debt Deleveraging," Working Papers 182, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank).
  5. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst & Matthew J. Notowidigdo, 2013. "Manufacturing Decline, Housing Booms, and Non-Employment," NBER Working Papers 18949, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow & Benjamin A. Malin, 2012. "Testing for Keynesian Labor Demand," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2012, Volume 27, pages 311-349 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Manuel Adelino & Song Ma & David T. Robinson, 2014. "Firm Age, Investment Opportunities, and Job Creation," NBER Working Papers 19845, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Serena Ng & Jonathan H. Wright, 2013. "Facts and Challenges from the Great Recession for Forecasting and Macroeconomic Modeling," NBER Working Papers 19469, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Anton Korinek & Alp Simsek, 2014. "Liquidity Trap and Excessive Leverage," NBER Working Papers 19970, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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