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What Does It Take to Explain Procyclical Productivity

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  • Wen, Yi

    (Cornell U)

Abstract

Labor productivity comoves strongly with output, leads output and employment, and is only weakly correlated with employment at the businesscycle frequency. Procyclical productivity is observed in virtually all countries and industries, and it is observed at both the business-cycle frequency and the seasonal frequency. Such prominent features of economic °uctuations present a litmus test for business cycle theory. The conventional explanations for procyclical labor productivity are factor hoarding (labor hoarding and capacity utilization) or increasing returns to scale. Existing equilibrium-business cycle theory explain procyclical labor productivity by technology shocks. The sheer magnitude of excess volatilities in productivity relative to employment seems to defy explanations from increasing returns alone. The technology-shock explanation, on the other hand, comes perilously close to assuming the conclusion. Furthermore, even in periods of pure demand shocks, labor productivity remains procyclical. Applying general equilibrium theory, this paper shows that neither technology shocks nor increasing returns to scale are necessary for understanding procyclical productivity. Factor hoarding is su±cient for demand shocks to induce procyclical productivity at both aggregate and disaggregate levels despite constant or even diminishing returns to scale.

Suggested Citation

  • Wen, Yi, 2002. "What Does It Take to Explain Procyclical Productivity," Working Papers 02-14, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:corcae:02-14
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    File URL: https://cae.economics.cornell.edu/prod6.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Jordi Galí & Thijs van Rens, 2008. "The vanishing procyclicality of labor productivity," Economics Working Papers 1230, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jul 2010.
    2. Chacko George & Florian Kuhn, 2019. "Business Cycle Implications of Capacity Constraints under Demand Shocks," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 32, pages 94-121, April.
    3. Wen, Yi, 2003. "On the Optimal Volume of Labor Hoarding," Working Papers 03-14, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
    4. Kevin x.d. Huang & Jie Chen & Zhe Li & Jianfei Sun, 2014. "Financial Conditions and Slow Recoveries," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 14-00004, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    5. Wen, Yi, 2005. "Understanding the inventory cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(8), pages 1533-1555, November.
    6. Aguiar-Conraria, Luis & Wen, Yi, 2005. "Understanding the Impact of Oil Shocks," Working Papers 05-01, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
    7. Wen, Yi, 2006. "Demand shocks and economic fluctuations," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 90(3), pages 378-383, March.
    8. Luõs Aguiar-Conraria & Yi Wen, 2007. "Understanding the Large Negative Impact of Oil Shocks," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(4), pages 925-944, June.
    9. Cook, David & Xu, Juanyi, 2015. "Eurosclerosis and international business cycles," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 54-67.
    10. Sweder van Wijnbergen & Tim Willems, 2013. "Imperfect information, lagged labour adjustment, and the Great Moderation," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(2), pages 219-239, April.
    11. Anneleen Vandeplas & Anna Thum-Thysen, 2019. "Skills Mismatch and Productivity in the EU," European Economy - Discussion Papers 2015 - 100, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    12. Hashmat Khan & John Tsoukalas, 2005. "Technology Shocks and UK Business Cycles," Macroeconomics 0512006, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Wang, Peng-fei & Wen, Yi, 2005. "Endogenous money or sticky prices?--comment on monetary non-neutrality and inflation dynamics," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(8), pages 1361-1383, August.
    14. Wen, Yi, 2007. "By force of demand: Explaining international comovements," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 1-23, January.
    15. Jiang, Mingming, 2016. "By force of demand: Explaining cyclical fluctuations of international trade and government spending," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 249-267.
    16. Wang, Pengfei & Wen, Yi & Xu, Zhiwei, 2014. "What inventories tell us about aggregate fluctuations—A tractable approach to (S,s) policies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 196-217.
    17. Yi Wen, 2005. "By force of demand: explaining international comovements and the saving-investment correlation puzzle," Working Papers 2005-043, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    18. Wang, Peng-fei & Wen, Yi, 2006. "Another look at sticky prices and output persistence," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 30(12), pages 2533-2552, December.
    19. GalÌ, Jordi & van Rens, Thijs, 2020. "The Vanishing Procyclicality of Labour Productivity," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 477, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    20. GalÌ, Jordi & van Rens, Thijs, 2020. "The Vanishing Procyclicality of Labour Productivity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1271, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    21. Jiang, Mingming, 2017. "On demand shocks and international business cycle puzzles," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 160(C), pages 29-32.

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