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Temporary Shocks and Unavoidable Transitions to a High-Unemployment Regime

  • Den Haan, Wouter

This Paper develops a model with multiple steady states (low tax and low unemployment versus high tax and high unemployment) in which equilibrium selection is not conditioned on a sunspot variable. Instead, large temporary shocks initiate unavoidable transitions from one steady state to another. Tax policies have huge effects in some cases. In particular, it is possible that the transition to the high-unemployment steady state after a negative shock can be avoided if the government borrows to finance unemployment benefits, and in some cases it is even possible that a credible permanent tax cut would force the economy out of the high-unemployment steady state. The model is used to explain the high European unemployment rates in the 80’s and 90’s. The Paper argues that the increase in unemployment during the 70’s played a key role because it led to an increase in the obligation to pay unemployment benefits. The implied tax burden was so big that the transition to the high-unemployment regime was the unique equilibrium outcome.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3704.

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Date of creation: Jan 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3704
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  1. Russell Cooper & Dean Corbae, 1997. "Financial Fragility and the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 6094, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. den Haan, Wouter J. & Ramey, Garey & Watson, Joel, 2003. "Liquidity flows and fragility of business enterprises," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(6), pages 1215-1241, September.
  3. Daveri, Francesco & Tabellini, Guido, 1997. "Unemployment, Growth and Taxation in Industrial Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 1681, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Ramon Marimon & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 1997. "Unemployment vs. Mismatch of Talents: Reconsidering Unemployment Benefits," NBER Working Papers 6038, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bassetto, Marco, 2005. "Equilibrium and government commitment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 124(1), pages 79-105, September.
  6. Ljungqvist, Lars & Sargent, Thomas J., 1997. "The European Unemployment Dilemma," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 178, Stockholm School of Economics.
  7. Den Haan, Wouter & Haefke, Christian & Ramey, Gary, 2001. "Shocks and Institutions in a Job Matching Model," CEPR Discussion Papers 2970, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. den Haan, Wouter J. & Ramey, Garey & Watson, Joel, 2000. "Job destruction and the experiences of displaced workers," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 87-128, June.
  9. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1999. "Unemployment Responses to 'Skill-Biased' Technology Shocks: The Role of Labour Market Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(455), pages 242-65, April.
  10. Farmer, Roger E A, 1997. "Money in a Real Business Cycle Model," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(4), pages 568-611, November.
  11. Alberto Alesina & Silvia Ardagna & Roberto Perotti & Fabio Schiantarelli, 2000. "Fiscal Policy, Profits, and Investment," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 504, Boston College Department of Economics.
  12. Nickell, S. & Layard, R., 1997. "Labour Market Institutions and Economic Performance," Papers 23, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  13. Novales, Alfonso & Ruiz, Jesus, 2002. "Dynamic Laffer curves," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 181-206, December.
  14. Olivier J. Blanchard & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Fiscal Increasing Returns, Hysteresis, Real Wages and Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 2034, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1994. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 397-415, July.
  16. Stephen Morris & Hyun Song Shin, 2000. "Rethinking Multiple Equilibria in Macroeconomic Modelling," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1260, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  17. Bryant, John, 1983. "A Simple Rational Expectations Keynes-Type Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 525-28, August.
  18. Steve Nickell & Jan van Ours, 2000. "The Netherlands and the United Kingdom: a European unemployment miracle?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 15(30), pages 135-180, 04.
  19. Assar Lindbeck, 1996. "The West European employment problem," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 132(4), pages 609-637, December.
  20. Wouter J. den Haan & Garey Ramey & Joel Watson, 1997. "Job Destruction and Propagation of Shocks," NBER Working Papers 6275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Marimon, R. & Zilibotti, F., 1998. "Unemployment vs. Mismatch of Talents," Papers 661, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
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