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Can market-clearing models explain U.S. labor market fluctuations?

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  • Victor E. Li

Abstract

Throughout the past two decades, market-clearing models of the business cycle have been praised for their ability to explain key empirical features of the post-war U.S. business cycle. Real business cycle (RBC) theory shows that in a model grounded in microeconomic foundations, disturbances to national productivity can explain how aggregate variables such as GDP, consumption and investment behave over time, relative to each other. One of the primary weaknesses of the standard RBC model, however, is its inability to account for some important aspects of U.S. labor market fluctuations. In this article, Victor E. Li summarizes important U.S. business cycle facts and examines how and why these market-clearing models have so much difficulty explaining the mannner in which these facts pertain to the labor market. Li then develops a simple market-clearing framework that demonstrates how a more realistic treatment of unemployment and incomplete risk-sharing may provide an alternative approach to better account for these labor market facts. In particular, Li looks at the situation where the risk of being unemployed cannot be completely shared across all individuals when there are unexpected aggregate economic shocks.

Suggested Citation

  • Victor E. Li, 1999. "Can market-clearing models explain U.S. labor market fluctuations?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 35-49.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:1999:i:jul:p:35-49:n:v.81no.4
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hansen, Gary D., 1985. "Indivisible labor and the business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 309-327, November.
    2. Benhabib, Jess & Rogerson, Richard & Wright, Randall, 1991. "Homework in Macroeconomics: Household Production and Aggregate Fluctuations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1166-1187, December.
    3. Merz, Monika, 1995. "Search in the labor market and the real business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 269-300, November.
    4. Finn E. Kydland, 1993. "Business cycles and aggregate labor-market fluctuations," Working Paper 9312, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    5. Hodrick, Robert J & Prescott, Edward C, 1997. "Postwar U.S. Business Cycles: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(1), pages 1-16, February.
    6. Christiano, Lawrence J & Eichenbaum, Martin, 1992. "Current Real-Business-Cycle Theories and Aggregate Labor-Market Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 430-450.
    7. Michael R. Pakko, 1997. "The business cycle and chain-weighted GDP: has our perspective changed?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Sep, pages 39-49.
    8. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1990. "Liquidity and interest rates," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 237-264, April.
    9. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark, 1989. "Agency Costs, Net Worth, and Business Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 14-31, March.
    10. Fuerst, Timothy S., 1992. "Liquidity, loanable funds, and real activity," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 3-24, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chiarini, Bruno & Piselli, Paolo, 2005. "Business cycle, unemployment benefits and productivity shocks," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 670-690, December.
    2. John C. Ham & Kevin T. Reilly, 2002. "Testing Intertemporal Substitution, Implicit Contracts, and Hours Restriction Models of the Labor Market Using Micro Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 905-927, September.
    3. John C. Ham & Kevin T. Reilly, 2013. "Implicit Contracts, Life Cycle Labor Supply, And Intertemporal Substitution," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 54, pages 1133-1158, November.
    4. Bruno Chiarini & Paolo Piselli, 2000. "Aggregate Fluctuations In A Unionized Labor Market," Working Papers 2_2000, D.E.S. (Department of Economic Studies), University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy.

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