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Why has the cyclicality of productivity changed?: what does it mean?

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  • Fernald, John G.

    () (Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco)

  • Wang, J. Christina

    () (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)

Abstract

Historically, U.S. labor productivity (output per hour) and total factor productivity (TFP) rose in booms and fell in recessions. Different models of business cycles explain this procyclicality differently. Traditional Keynesian models relied on "factor hoarding," that is, variations in how intensively labor and capital were utilized over the business cycle. Real business cycle (RBC) models instead posit that procyclical technology shocks drive the business cycle. Since the mid-1980s, however, the procyclicality of productivity has waned. TFP has been roughly acyclical with respect to inputs, whereas labor productivity has become significantly countercyclical. The slow pace of productivity growth after 2010, when the post-Great- Recession recovery gained a firm footing, is broadly consistent with these patterns. In this paper, the authors seek to understand empirically the forces behind the changing cyclicality of productivity.

Suggested Citation

  • Fernald, John G. & Wang, J. Christina, 2015. "Why has the cyclicality of productivity changed?: what does it mean?," Current Policy Perspectives 15-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbcq:2015_006
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    Cited by:

    1. Tommaso Ferraresi & Andrea Roventini & Willi Semmler, 2016. "Macroeconomic regimes, technological shocks and employment dynamics," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2016-19, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
    2. Ravn, Morten O & Sterk, Vincent, 2016. "Macroeconomic Fluctuations with HANK & SAM: An Analytical Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 11696, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Hashmat Khan & Christopher R. Knittel & Konstantinos Metaxoglou & Maya M. Papineau, 2015. "Carbon Emissions and Business Cycles," Carleton Economic Papers 15-07, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised 17 May 2018.
    4. John G. Fernald & Robert E. Hall & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2017. "The Disappointing Recovery of Output after 2009," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 48(1 (Spring), pages 1-81.
    5. Cantore, Cristiano & Ferroni, Filippo & León-Ledesma, Miguel A., 2017. "The dynamics of hours worked and technology," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 67-82.
    6. Yépez, Carlos A., 2017. "Financial conditions and labor productivity over the business cycle," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 34-38.
    7. Yongsung Chang & Sun-Bin Kim & Mark Bils, 2013. "How Sticky Wages in Existing Jobs can affect Hiring," 2013 Meeting Papers 1162, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Borja Jalón & Simón Sosvilla-Rivero & José A. Herce, 2017. "Countercyclical Labor Productivity: The Spanish Anomaly," IREA Working Papers 201712, University of Barcelona, Research Institute of Applied Economics, revised Jun 2017.
    9. Yépez, Carlos A., 2017. "Financial intermediation, consumption dynamics, and business cycles," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 231-243.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    procyclical productivity; labor hoarding; business cycles; growth-accounting; DSGE models;

    JEL classification:

    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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