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Quantifying the Lasting Harm to the U.S. Economy from the Financial Crisis

In: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2014, Volume 29


  • Robert E. Hall


The financial crisis and ensuing Great Recession left the U.S. economy in an injured state. In 2013, output was 13 percent below its trend path from 1990 through 2007. Part of this shortfall--2.2 percentage points out of the 13--was the result of lingering slackness in the labor market in the form of abnormal unemployment and substandard weekly hours of work. The single biggest contributor was a shortfall in business capital, which accounted for 3.9 percentage points. The second largest was a shortfall of 3.5 percentage points in total factor productivity. The fourth was a shortfall of 2.4 percentage points in labor-force participation. I discuss these four sources of the injury in detail, focusing on identifying state variables that may or may not return to earlier growth paths. The conclusion is optimistic about the capital stock and slackness in the labor market and pessimistic about reversing the declines in total factor productivity and the part of the participation shortfall not associated with the weak labor market.
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Suggested Citation

  • Robert E. Hall, 2014. "Quantifying the Lasting Harm to the U.S. Economy from the Financial Crisis," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2014, Volume 29, pages 71-128 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:13423

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Elsby, Michael & Hobijn, Bart & Sahin, Aysegül, 2013. "On the Importance of the Participation Margin for Market Fluctuations," Working Paper Series 2013-05, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    2. Andreas I. Mueller & Jesse Rothstein & Till M. von Wachter, 2016. "Unemployment Insurance and Disability Insurance in the Great Recession," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(S1), pages 445-475.
    3. Katherine Baicker & Amy Finkelstein & Jae Song & Sarah Taubman, 2013. "The Impact of Medicaid on Labor Force Activity and Program Participation: Evidence from the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment," NBER Working Papers 19547, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Hanel, Barbara, 2012. "The effect of disability pension incentives on early retirement decisions," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 595-607.
    5. Marcus Hagedorn & Fatih Karahan & Iourii Manovskii & Kurt Mitman, 2013. "Unemployment Benefits and Unemployment in the Great Recession: The Role of Macro Effects," NBER Working Papers 19499, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Gabriel Chodorow-Reich & Loukas Karabarbounis, 2016. "The Cyclicality of the Opportunity Cost of Employment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(6), pages 1563-1618.
    7. Shigeru Fujita, 2011. "Effects of extended unemployment insurance benefits: evidence from the monthly CPS," Working Papers 10-35, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    8. Alan B. Krueger & Andreas Mueller, 2011. "Job Search, Emotional Well-Being and Job Finding in a Period of Mass Unemployment: Evidence from High-Frequency Longitudinal Data," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 42(1 (Spring), pages 1-81.
    9. Ravn, Morten O. & Sterk, Vincent, 2017. "Job uncertainty and deep recessions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 125-141.
    10. John G. Fernald, 2012. "A quarterly, utilization-adjusted series on total factor productivity," Working Paper Series 2012-19, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    11. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst & Loukas Karabarbounis, 2013. "Time Use during the Great Recession," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(5), pages 1664-1696, August.
    12. Julie L. Hotchkiss & M. Melinda Pitts & Fernando Rios-Avila, 2012. "A closer look at nonparticipants during and after the Great Recession," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2012-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
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    14. Robert E. Hall, 2004. "Measuring Factor Adjustment Costs," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 899-927.
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    Cited by:

    1. Venky Venkateswaran & Laura Veldkamp & Julian Kozlowski, 2015. "The Tail that Wags the Economy: Belief-Driven Business Cycles and Persistent Stagnation," 2015 Meeting Papers 800, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Maarten de Ridder, 2016. "Investment in Productivity and the Long-Run Effect of Financial Crises on Output," Discussion Papers 1630, Centre for Macroeconomics (CFM).
    3. Barnichon, Regis & Matthes, Christian & Ziegenbein, Alexander, 2016. "Theory Ahead of Measurement? Assessing the Nonlinear Effects of Financial Market Disruptions," Working Paper 16-15, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
    4. Stephanie Aaronson & Tomaz Cajner & Bruce Fallick & Felix Galbis-Reig & Christopher Smith & William Wascher, 2014. "Labor Force Participation: Recent Developments and Future Prospects," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 45(2 (Fall)), pages 197-275.
    5. Marco Luca Pinchetti, 2017. "Creative Destruction Cycles: Schumpeterian Growth in an Estimated DSGE Model," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2017-04, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    6. Nadja Dwenger & Frank M Fossen & Martin Simmler, 2015. "From financial to real economic crisis: evidence from individual firm¨Cbank relationships in Germany," Working Papers 1516, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
    7. repec:eee:jpolmo:v:39:y:2017:i:2:p:247-271 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Feng Zhu, 2016. "A spectral perspective on natural interest rates in Asia-Pacific: changes and possible drivers," BIS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Expanding the boundaries of monetary policy in Asia and the Pacific, volume 88, pages 63-149 Bank for International Settlements.
    9. Albuquerque, Bruno & Baumann, Ursel, 2017. "Will US inflation awake from the dead? The role of slack and non-linearities in the Phillips curve," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 247-271.
    10. Robert J. GORDON, 2015. "Secular Stagnation on the Supply Side: U.S. Producivity Growth in the Long Run," Communications & Strategies, IDATE, Com&Strat dept., vol. 1(100), pages 19-45, 4th quart.
    11. de Ridder, Maarten, 2016. "Investment in productivity and the long-run effect of financial crises on output," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86180, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    12. Robert J. Gordon, 2014. "A New Method of Estimating Potential Real GDP Growth: Implications for the Labor Market and the Debt/GDP Ratio," NBER Working Papers 20423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Nadja Dwenger & Frank M. Fossen & Martin Simmler, 2015. "From Financial to Real Economic Crisis: Evidence from Individual Firm-Bank Relationships in Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1510, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    14. repec:eee:macchp:v2-2131 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Tom Schmitz, 2016. "Endogenous Growth, Firm Heterogeneity and the Long-run Impact of Financial Crises," 2016 Meeting Papers 609, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    16. William R. Cline & Jared Nolan, 2014. "Demographic versus Cyclical Influences on US Labor Force Participation," Working Paper Series WP14-4, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    17. Alexander Murray, 2017. "What Explains the Post-2004 U.S.Productivity Slowdown?," CSLS Research Reports 2017-05, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity


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