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Markups and the Welfare Cost of Business Cycles: A Reappraisal


  • Jean-Olivier Hairault

    (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics, IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor)

  • François Langot

    (IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor, GAINS-TEPP - UM - Le Mans Université, CEPREMAP - Centre pour la recherche économique et ses applications)


Gali et al. (2007) have recently shown quantitatively that fluctuations in the efficiency of resource allocation do not generate sizable welfare costs. In their economy, which is distorted by monopolistic competition in the steady state, we show that they underestimate the welfare cost of these fluctuations by ignoring the negative effect of aggregate volatility on average consumption and leisure. As monopolistic suppliers, both firms and workers aim to preserve their expected markups; the interaction between aggregate fluctuations and price-setting behavior results in average consumption and employment levels that are lower than their counterparts in the flexible-price economy. This level effect increases the efficiency cost of business cycles. It is all the more sizable with the degree of inefficiency in the steady state, lower labor-supply elasticities, and when prices instead of wages are rigid.

Suggested Citation

  • Jean-Olivier Hairault & François Langot, 2012. "Markups and the Welfare Cost of Business Cycles: A Reappraisal," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00623281, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:cesptp:hal-00623281
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1538-4616.2012.00519.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pierpaolo Benigno & Michael Woodford, 2005. "Inflation Stabilization And Welfare: The Case Of A Distorted Steady State," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(6), pages 1185-1236, December.
    2. Sutherland, Alan, 2002. "A Simple Second-Order Solution Method For Dynamic General Equilibrium Models," CEPR Discussion Papers 3554, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Aubhik Khan & Robert G. King & Alexander L. Wolman, 2003. "Optimal Monetary Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(4), pages 825-860.
    4. Attanasio, Orazio P, et al, 1999. "Humps and Bumps in Lifetime Consumption," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 17(1), pages 22-35, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Eleni Iliopulos & François Langot & Thepthida Sopraseuth, 2014. "Welfare Cost of Fluctuations: when Labor Market Search Interacts with Financial Frictions," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 14042, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.

    More about this item


    Business cycle costs; inefficiency gap; New-Keynesian Macroeconomics;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E12 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Keynes; Keynesian; Post-Keynesian

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