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The Output Gap, the Labor Wedge, and the Dynamic Behavior of Hours

  • Sala, Luca


    (Department of Economics and IGIER)

  • Söderström, Ulf


    (Research Department, Central Bank of Sweden)

  • Trigari, Antonella


    (Department of Economics and IGIER)

We use a standard quantitative business cycle model with nominal price and wage rigidities to estimate two measures of economic inefficiency in recent U.S. data: the output gap - the gap between the actual and efficient levels of output - and the labor wedge - the wedge between households' marginal rate of substitution and firms' marginal product of labor. We establish three results. (i) The output gap and the labor wedge are closely related, suggesting that most inefficiencies in output are due to the inefficient allocation of labor. (ii) The estimates are sensitive to the structural interpretation of shocks to the labor market, which is ambiguous in the model. (iii) Movements in hours worked are essentially exogenous, directly driven by labor market shocks, whereas wage rigidities generate a markup of the real wage over the marginal rate of substitution that is acyclical. We conclude that the model fails in two important respects: it does not give clear guidance concerning the efficiency of business cycle fluctuations, and it provides an unsatisfactory explanation of labor market and business cycle dynamics.

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Paper provided by Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden) in its series Working Paper Series with number 246.

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Length: 72 pages
Date of creation: 01 Sep 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:rbnkwp:0246
Contact details of provider: Postal: Sveriges Riksbank, SE-103 37 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: 08 - 787 00 00
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  1. Boivin, J. & Giannoni, M., 2007. "DSGE Models in a Data-Rich Environment," Working papers 162, Banque de France.
  2. Neiss, Katharine & Nelson, Edward, 2001. "The Real Interest rate Gap as an Inflation Indicator," CEPR Discussion Papers 2848, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Andrew T. Levin & Alexei Onatski & John C. Williams & Noah Williams, 2005. "Monetary policy under uncertainty in micro-founded macroeconometric models," Working Paper Series 2005-15, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  4. Erceg, Christopher J. & Henderson, Dale W. & Levin, Andrew T., 2000. "Optimal monetary policy with staggered wage and price contracts," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 281-313, October.
  5. Giorgio Primiceri & Alejandro Justiniano, 2009. "Potential and natural output," 2009 Meeting Papers 25, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Günter Coenen & Frank Smets & Igor Vetlov, 2009. "Estimation of the Euro Area Output Gap Using the NAWM," Bank of Lithuania Working Paper Series 5, Bank of Lithuania.
  7. Malin Adolfson & Stefan Laséen & Jesper Lindé & Lars E.O. Svensson, 2008. "Optimal Monetary Policy in an Operational Medium-Sized DSGE Model," NBER Working Papers 14092, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Katharine Neiss & Edward Nelson, 2002. "Inflation dynamics, marginal cost, and the output gap: evidence from three countries," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Mar.
  9. Sala, Luca & Söderström, Ulf & Trigari, Antonella, 2008. "Monetary Policy Under Uncertainty in an Estimated Model with Labour Market Frictions," CEPR Discussion Papers 6826, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. David E. Altig & Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Jesper Linde, 2010. "Firm-specific capital, nominal rigidities and the business cycle," International Finance Discussion Papers 990, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  11. Lawrence J. Christiano & Mathias Trabandt & Karl Walentin, 2010. "Involuntary unemployment and the business cycle," FRB Atlanta CQER Working Paper 2010-03, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  12. Roman Sustek, 2011. "Monetary Business Cycle Accounting," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(4), pages 592-612, October.
  13. Alejandro Justiniano & Giorgio E. Primiceri & Andrea Tambalotti, 2008. "Investment shocks and business cycles," Staff Reports 322, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  14. Urban Jermann & Vincenzo Quadrini, 2012. "Macroeconomic Effects of Financial Shocks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 238-71, February.
  15. Edge, Rochelle M. & Kiley, Michael T. & Laforte, Jean-Philippe, 2008. "Natural rate measures in an estimated DSGE model of the U.S. economy," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 2512-2535, August.
  16. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 2009. "What do we know and not know about potential output?," Working Paper Series 2009-05, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  17. Gregory de Walque & Frank Smets & Raf Wouters, 2006. "Price Shocks in General Equilibrium: Alternative Specifications," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 52(1), pages 153-176, March.
  18. Mark Gertler & Luca Sala & Antonella Trigari, 2008. "An Estimated Monetary DSGE Model with Unemployment and Staggered Nominal Wage Bargaining," Working Papers 341, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  19. Michael T. Kiley, 2010. "Output gaps," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-27, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  20. James R. Spletzer & Katharine G. Abraham & Jay C. Stewart, 1999. "Why Do Different Wage Series Tell Different Stories?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 34-39, May.
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