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Persistent Unemployment and Policy Uncertainty: Numerical Evidence from a New Approach

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  • Patrick L Anderson

Abstract

In the recovery from the United States’ 2009 recession, unemployment has proven resistant to both aggressive fiscal policy and expansionary monetary policy. A possible explanation is the policy cost uncertainty hypothesis. This holds that managers of private firms have been rationally avoiding hiring workers in the years after 2010 because of the risk of higher future costs imposed by government policies. However, such a hypothesis cannot be directly tested in standard models of firm behavior. Thus, to formally test the policy cost uncertainty hypothesis, we use a novel “value functional” or “recursive” model of firm behavior, in which managers maximize the value of the business rather than its profits. Using this approach, we demonstrate that policy cost uncertainty affects the hiring decisions of firms, that the response to policy uncertainty is higher in some industries than others, and that the scale of the firm also affects its sensitivity to policy risk. This approach has potentially broad application within business economics, particularly in evaluating investment and hiring decisions; real options; and other aspects of uncertainty, fixed costs, and managerial flexibility.

Suggested Citation

  • Patrick L Anderson, 2014. "Persistent Unemployment and Policy Uncertainty: Numerical Evidence from a New Approach," Business Economics, Palgrave Macmillan;National Association for Business Economics, vol. 49(1), pages 2-20, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:buseco:v:49:y:2014:i:1:p:2-20
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