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Aggregate productivity and aggregate technology

  • Susanto Basu
  • John G. Fernald

Aggregate productivity and aggregate technology are meaningful but distinct concepts. We show that a slightly-modified Solow productivity residual measures changes in economic welfare, even when productivity and technology differ because of distortions such as imperfect competition. We then present a general accounting framework that identifies several new non-technological gaps between productivity and technology, gaps reflecting imperfections and frictions in output and factor markets. Empirically, we find that these gaps are important, even though we abstract from variations in factor utilization and estimate only small average sectoral markups. Compared with productivity growth, our measured technology shocks are significantly less correlated with output, and are essentially uncorrelated with inputs. Our results imply that calibrating dynamic general equilibrium models as if Solow residuals were technology shocks confuses impulses and propagation mechanisms.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 593.

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Date of creation: 1997
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:593
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  1. Berndt, Ernst R. & Fuss, Melvyn A., 1986. "Productivity measurement with adjustments for variations in capacity utilization and other forms of temporary equilibrium," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1-2), pages 7-29.
  2. Kenneth L. Judd, 1997. "The Optimal Tax Rate for Capital Income is Negative," NBER Working Papers 6004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Basu, S. & Fernald, J.G., 1993. "Are Apparent Productive Spillovers a Figment of Specification Error," Papers 93-22, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  4. Susanto Basu, 1996. "Procyclical Productivity: Increasing Returns or Cyclical Utilization?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(3), pages 719-751.
  5. Farmer Roger E. A. & Guo Jang-Ting, 1994. "Real Business Cycles and the Animal Spirits Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 42-72, June.
  6. Kimball, Miles S, 1995. "The Quantitative Analytics of the Basic Neomonetarist Model," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(4), pages 1241-77, November.
  7. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 1995. "Capital Utilization and Returns to Scale," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1995, Volume 10, pages 67-124 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Horvath, Michael, 2000. "Sectoral shocks and aggregate fluctuations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 69-106, February.
  9. Simon Gilchrist & John C. Williams, 1998. "Putty-clay and investment: a business cycle analysis," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-30, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. Robert J. Barro & Robert G. King, 1984. "Time-Separable Preferences and Intertemporal-Substitution Models of Business Cycles," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(4), pages 817-839.
  11. Julio J. Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1989. "Oligopolistic Pricing and the Effects of Aggregate Demand on Economic Activity," NBER Working Papers 3206, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Gali, J., 1996. "Technology, Employment, and the Business Cycle: Do Technology Shocks Explain Aggregate Fluctuations?," Working Papers 96-28, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  13. Rotemberg, Julio J & Saloner, Garth, 1986. "A Supergame-Theoretic Model of Price Wars during Booms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 390-407, June.
  14. Swanson Eric T, 2006. "The Relative Price and Relative Productivity Channels for Aggregate Fluctuations," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-39, October.
  15. Robert E. Hall, 1986. "The Relation Between Price and Marginal Cost in U.S. Industry," NBER Working Papers 1785, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. William D. Nordhaus, 2001. "Alternative Methods for Measuring Productivity Growth," NBER Working Papers 8095, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Susanto Basu, 1994. "Intermediate Goods and Business Cycles: Implications for Productivity and Welfare," NBER Working Papers 4817, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Matthew D. Shapiro, 1996. "Macroeconomic Implications of Variation in the Workweek of Capital," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(2), pages 79-134.
  19. Caballero, R.J. & Lyons, R.K., 1991. "External Effects in U.S. Procyclical Productivity," Papers 91-19, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
  20. Rotemberg, Julio J & Woodford, Michael, 1996. "Imperfect Competition and the Effects of Energy Price Increases on Economic Activity," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(4), pages 550-77, November.
  21. Martin L. Weitzman, 1976. "On the Welfare Significance of National Product in a Dynamic Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(1), pages 156-162.
  22. Valerie A. Ramey & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1999. "Costly Capital Reallocation and the Effects of Government Spending," NBER Working Papers 6283, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Timothy Cogley & James M. Nason, 1993. "Output dynamics in real business cycle models," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 93-10, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  24. Michael Bruno, 1984. "Raw Materials, Profits, and the Productivity Slowdown," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(1), pages 1-29.
  25. Charles R. Hulten, 1978. "Growth Accounting with Intermediate Inputs," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(3), pages 511-518.
  26. Phelan, Christopher & Trejos, Alberto, 2000. "The aggregate effects of sectoral reallocations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 249-268, April.
  27. Bai, Chong-en & Li, David D. & Wang, Yijiang, 1997. "Enterprise Productivity and Efficiency: When Is Up Really Down?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 265-280, June.
  28. repec:oup:restud:v:45:y:1978:i:3:p:511-18 is not listed on IDEAS
  29. Diamond, Peter A & Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "Optimal Taxation and Public Production II: Tax Rules," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(3), pages 261-78, June.
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