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Improvements in Macroeconomic Stability: The Role of Wages and Prices

In: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change

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  • John B. Taylor

Abstract

This paper compares macroeconomic performance in the United States from 1891 through 1914 with the period after the Second World War by estimating reduced form autoregressions for prices, wages and output, by looking at their moving average representations, and by giving them simple structural interpretations. The results show that the impulses to the economic system were smaller in the later period, but the propagation mechanisms are much slower and more drawn out. The smaller shocks are therefore translated into larger and more prolonged fluctuations in output and inflation than would occur if the earlier dynamics were applicable in the later period. A tentative explanation for the changes in the dynamics is a slower speed of wage and price adjustment combined with a different accommodative stance for the monetary system.
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Suggested Citation

  • John B. Taylor, 1986. "Improvements in Macroeconomic Stability: The Role of Wages and Prices," NBER Chapters, in: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, pages 639-678, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:10033
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Milton Friedman & Anna J. Schwartz, 1963. "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie63-1, July.
    2. Taylor, John B., 1980. "Output and price stability: An international comparison," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 109-132, May.
    3. Sims, Christopher A, 1980. "Macroeconomics and Reality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-48, January.
    4. Anna J. Schwartz, 1984. "Introduction to "A Retrospective on the Classical Gold Standard, 1821-1931"," NBER Chapters, in: A Retrospective on the Classical Gold Standard, 1821-1931, pages 1-22, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. repec:ucp:bknber:9780226065908 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Michael D. Bordo & Anna J. Schwartz, 1984. "A Retrospective on the Classical Gold Standard, 1821-1931," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bord84-1, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Magda Kandil, 2002. "Asymmetry In Economic Fluctuations In The Us Economy: The Pre-War And The 1946-1991 Periods Compared," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(1), pages 21-42.
    2. Hogan, Thomas L., 2015. "Has the Fed improved U.S. economic performance?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 257-266.
    3. Ellis, Christopher J. & Holden, Steinar, 1997. "Optimal contract length in a reputational model of monetary policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 227-243, February.
    4. Allen, Steven G, 1992. "Changes in the Cyclical Sensitivity of Wages in the United States, 1891-1987," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 122-140, March.
    5. Joseph E. Gagnon, 1989. "A forward-looking multicountry model: MX3," International Finance Discussion Papers 359, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    6. Taylor, John B., 1999. "Staggered price and wage setting in macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 15, pages 1009-1050, Elsevier.
    7. Charles W. Calomiris & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1985. "Price Flexibility, Credit Rationing, and Economic Fluctuations: Evidence from the U.S., 1879-1914," NBER Working Papers 1767, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Ichiro Takahashi & Isamu Okada, 2020. "An artificial Wicksell–Keynes economy integrating short-run business cycle and long-term cumulative trend," Journal of Economic Interaction and Coordination, Springer;Society for Economic Science with Heterogeneous Interacting Agents, vol. 15(4), pages 953-998, October.
    9. Olivier J. Blanchard, 1986. "Empirical Structural Evidence On Wages, Prices and Employment in the US," Working papers 431, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    10. Edward Nelson, 2008. "Friedman and Taylor on monetary policy rules: a comparison," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 90(Mar), pages 95-116.
    11. Nathan S. Balke & Robert J. Gordon, 1986. "The Estimation of Prewar GNP Volatility, 1869-1938," NBER Working Papers 1999, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Neville Francis & Valerie A. Ramey, 2006. "The Source of Historical Economic Fluctuations: An Analysis Using Long-Run Restrictions," NBER Chapters, in: NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2004, pages 17-73, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Victor Zarnowitz, 1989. "Cost and Price Movements in Business Cycle Theories and Experience: Causes and Effects of OBserved Changes (SEE ALSO WP3131-Send out together)," NBER Working Papers 3132, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Kearney, Colm & Daly, Kevin, 1997. "Monetary volatility and real output volatility: An empirical model of the financial transmission mechanism in Australia," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 77-95.
    15. Ichiro Takahashi, 2021. "An Artificial Wicksell—Keynes Macroeconomy," Springer Books, Springer, number 978-981-16-6839-5, June.
    16. Allen, Steven G., 1989. "Changes in the Cyclical Sensitivity of Wages in the United States, 1891-1987," Department of Economics and Business - Archive 259452, North Carolina State University, Department of Economics.
    17. Ichiro Takahashi, 2021. "Market Mechanism: Stabilizing or Destabilizing?," Springer Books, in: An Artificial Wicksell—Keynes Macroeconomy, chapter 0, pages 1-20, Springer.
    18. Selgin, George & Lastrapes, William D. & White, Lawrence H., 2012. "Has the Fed been a failure?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 569-596.
    19. Thomas L. Hogan & Daniel J. Smith, 2022. "War, money & economy: Inflation and production in the Fed and pre-Fed periods," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 35(1), pages 15-37, March.
    20. John Hassler & Petter Lundvik & Torsten Persson & Paul Soderlind, 1992. "The Swedish business cycle: stylized facts over 130 years," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 63, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

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