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The Output Gap, the Labor Wedge, and the Dynamic Behavior of Hours

  • Sala, Luca
  • Söderström, Ulf
  • Trigari, Antonella

We use a standard quantitative business cycle model with nominal price and wage rigidities to estimate two measures of economic inefficiency in recent U.S. data: the output gap---the gap between the actual and efficient levels of output---and the labor wedge---the wedge between households' marginal rate of substitution and firms' marginal product of labor. We establish three results. (i) The output gap and the labor wedge are closely related, suggesting that most inefficiencies in output are due to the inefficient allocation of labor. (ii) The estimates are sensitive to the structural interpretation of shocks to the labor market, which is ambiguous in the model. (iii) Movements in hours worked are essentially exogenous, directly driven by labor market shocks, whereas wage rigidities generate a markup of the real wage over the marginal rate of substitution that is acyclical. We conclude that the model fails in two important respects: it does not give clear guidance concerning the efficiency of business cycle fluctuations, and it provides an unsatisfactory explanation of labor market and business cycle dynamics.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8005.

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Date of creation: Sep 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8005
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  1. Andrew T. Levin & Alexei Onatski & John C. Williams & Noah Williams, 2005. "Monetary Policy Under Uncertainty in Micro-Founded Macroeconometric Models," NBER Working Papers 11523, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 2009. "What do we know and not know about potential output?," Working Paper Series 2009-05, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  3. James R. Spletzer & Katharine G. Abraham & Jay C. Stewart, 1999. "Why Do Different Wage Series Tell Different Stories?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 34-39, May.
  4. Altig, David & Christiano, Lawrence & Eichenbaum, Martin & Lindé, Jesper, 2004. "Firm-Specific Capital, Nominal Rigidities and the Business Cycle," Working Paper Series 176, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
  5. Katharine S. Neiss and Edward Nelson, 2001. "The Real Interest Rate Gap as an Inflation Indicator," Computing in Economics and Finance 2001 145, Society for Computational Economics.
  6. Sala, Luca & Söderström, Ulf & Trigari, Antonella, 2008. "Monetary policy under uncertainty in an estimated model with labor market frictions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(5), pages 983-1006, July.
  7. Luca Sala & Antonella Trigari & Mark Gertler, 2007. "An Estimated Monetary DSGE Model with Unemployment and Staggered Nominal Wage Bargaining," 2007 Meeting Papers 353, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Kiley, Michael T., 2013. "Output gaps," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 1-18.
  9. Malin Adolfson & Stefan Laséen & Jesper Lindé & Lars E.O. Svensson, 2008. "Optimal Monetary Policy in an Operational Medium-Sized DSGE Model," NBER Working Papers 14092, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  11. Christiano, Lawrence J. & Trabrandt, Mathias & Walentin, Karl, 2010. "Involuntary Unemployment and the Business Cycle," Working Paper Series 238, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden), revised 01 Jun 2012.
  12. Katharine Neiss & Edward Nelson, 2002. "Inflation dynamics, marginal cost, and the output gap: evidence from three countries," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Mar.
  13. Giorgio Primiceri & Alejandro Justiniano, 2009. "Potential and natural output," 2009 Meeting Papers 25, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  14. Alejandro Justiniano & Giorgio E. Primiceri & Andrea Tambalotti, 2008. "Investment shocks and business cycles," Working Paper Series WP-08-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  15. Erceg, Christopher J. & Henderson, Dale W. & Levin, Andrew T., 2000. "Optimal monetary policy with staggered wage and price contracts," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 281-313, October.
  16. Edge, Rochelle M. & Kiley, Michael T. & Laforte, Jean-Philippe, 2008. "Natural rate measures in an estimated DSGE model of the U.S. economy," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 2512-2535, August.
  17. Urban Jermann & Vincenzo Quadrini, 2009. "Macroeconomic Effects of Financial Shocks," NBER Working Papers 15338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. David Altig & Lawrence Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Jesper Linde, 2005. "Online Appendix to "Firm-Specific Capital, Nominal Rigidities and the Business Cycle"," Technical Appendices 09-191, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  19. Roman Sustek, 2011. "Monetary Business Cycle Accounting," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(4), pages 592-612, October.
  20. Günter Coenen & Frank Smets & Igor Vetlov, 2009. "Estimation of the Euro Area Output Gap Using the NAWM," Bank of Lithuania Working Paper Series 5, Bank of Lithuania.
  21. Gregory de Walque & Frank Smets & Raf Wouters, 2006. "Price Shocks in General Equilibrium: Alternative Specifications," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 52(1), pages 153-176, March.
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