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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. David Altig & Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Jesper Linde, 2004. "Firm-specific capital, nominal rigidities and the business cycle," Working Paper Series WP-05-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  2. Neiss, Katharine S. & Nelson, Edward, 2003. "The Real-Interest-Rate Gap As An Inflation Indicator," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 239-262, April.
  3. Justiniano, Alejandro & Primiceri, Giorgio E. & Tambalotti, Andrea, 2010. "Investment shocks and business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 132-145, March.
  4. Michael T. Kiley, 2010. "Output gaps," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-27, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Rochelle M. Edge & Michael T. Kiley & Jean-Philippe Laforte, 2007. "Natural rate measures in an estimated DSGE model of the U.S. economy," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-08, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Mark Gertler & Luca Sala & Antonella Trigari, 2008. "An Estimated Monetary DSGE Model with Unemployment and Staggered Nominal Wage Bargaining," Working Papers 341, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Malin Adolfson & Stefan Laséen & Jesper Lindé & Lars E.O. Svensson, 2011. "Optimal monetary policy in an operational medium-sized DSGE model," International Finance Discussion Papers 1023, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  12. Andrew T. Levin & Alexei Onatski & John C. Williams & Noah Williams, 2005. "Monetary policy under uncertainty in micro-founded macroeconometric models," Working Paper Series 2005-15, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  13. Jermann, Urban & Quadrini, Vincenzo, 2009. "Macroeconomic Effects of Financial Shocks," CEPR Discussion Papers 7451, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Boivin, J. & Giannoni, M., 2007. "DSGE Models in a Data-Rich Environment," Working papers 162, Banque de France.
  15. Sala, Luca & Söderström, Ulf & Trigari, Antonella, 2008. "Monetary Policy Under Uncertainty in an Estimated Model with Labour Market Frictions," CEPR Discussion Papers 6826, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. 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.
  17. Sustek, Roman, 2009. "Monetary Business Cycle Accounting," MPRA Paper 17518, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  18. Giorgio Primiceri & Alejandro Justiniano, 2009. "Potential and natural output," 2009 Meeting Papers 25, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  19. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 2009. "What do we know (and not know) about potential output?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 187-214.
  20. 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.
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