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Seasonal Solow residuals and Christmas: a case for labor hoarding and increasing returns

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  • R. Anton Braun
  • Charles L. Evans

Abstract

In aggregate unadjusted data, measured Solow residuals exhibit large seasonal variations. Total Factor Productivity grows rapidly in the fourth quarter at an annual rate of 16 percent and regresses sharply in the first quarter at an annual rate of ?24 percent. This paper considers two potential explanations for the measured seasonal variation in the Solow residual: labor hoarding and increasing returns to scale. Using a specification that allows for no exogenous seasonal variation in technology and a single seasonal demand shift in the fourth quarter, we ask the following question: How much of the total seasonal variation in the measured Solow residual can be explained by Christmas? The answer to this question is surprising. With increasing returns and time varying labor effort, Christmas is sufficient to explain the seasonal variation in the Solow residual, consumption, average productivity, and output in all four quarters. Our analysis of seasonally unadjusted data uncovers important roles for labor hoarding and increasing returns which are difficult to identify in adjusted data.

Suggested Citation

  • R. Anton Braun & Charles L. Evans, 1996. "Seasonal Solow residuals and Christmas: a case for labor hoarding and increasing returns," Working Papers 575, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmwp:575
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    Cited by:

    1. Chistiano, Lawrence J & den Haan, Wouter J, 1996. "Small-Sample Properties of GMM for Business-Cycle Analysis," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 14(3), pages 309-327, July.
    2. Evans, Charles L. & Marshall, David A., 2007. "Economic determinants of the nominal treasury yield curve," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(7), pages 1986-2003, October.
    3. Cooper, Russell W. & Johri, Alok, 1997. "Dynamic complementarities: A quantitative analysis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 97-119, September.
    4. Bordo, Michael D. & Evans, Charles L., 1995. "Labor productivity during the Great Depression," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 41-45, January.
    5. Basu, Susanto & Fernald, John G., 1995. "Are apparent productive spillovers a figment of specification error?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 165-188, August.
    6. Braun, R. Anton & Evans, Charles L., 1995. "Seasonality and equilibrium business cycle theories," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 503-531, April.
    7. Marvin J. Barth III & Valerie A. Ramey, 2002. "The Cost Channel of Monetary Transmission," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2001, Volume 16, pages 199-256 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Christiano, Lawrence J. & Todd, Richard M., 2002. "The conventional treatment of seasonality in business cycle analysis: does it create distortions?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 335-364, March.
    9. Liu, Zheng, 2000. "Seasonal cycles, business cycles, and monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 441-464, October.
    10. Alok Johri, 2009. "Delivering Endogenous Inertia in Prices and Output," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 12(4), pages 736-754, October.
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    12. Laura Birg & Anna Goeddeke, 2016. "Christmas Economics—A Sleigh Ride," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(4), pages 1980-1984, October.
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    17. Wen, Yi, 2002. "The business cycle effects of Christmas," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 1289-1314, September.
    18. Cecchetti, Stephen G. & Kashyap, Anil K, 1996. "International cycles," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 331-360, February.
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