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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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File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/ifdp/1997/593/default.htm
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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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  2. Eric T. Swanson, 2006. "The relative price and relative productivity channels for aggregate fluctuations," Working Paper Series 2006-20, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
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  10. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 1995. "Are Apparent Productive Spillovers a Figment of Specification Error?," NBER Working Papers 5073, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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.
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  19. Phelan, Christopher & Trejos, Alberto, 2000. "The aggregate effects of sectoral reallocations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 249-268, April.
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  25. Caballero, Ricardo J. & Lyons, Richard K., 1992. "External effects in U.S. procyclical productivity," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 209-225, April.
  26. Ramey, Valerie A. & Shapiro, Matthew D., 1998. "Costly capital reallocation and the effects of government spending," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 145-194, June.
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