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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
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  1. Neiss, Katharine S. & Nelson, Edward, 2003. "The Real-Interest-Rate Gap As An Inflation Indicator," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 239-262, April.
  2. Urban Jermann & Vincenzo Quadrini, 2009. "Macroeconomic Effects of Financial Shocks," NBER Working Papers 15338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. David E. Altig & Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Jesper Linde, 2004. "Firm-specific capital, nominal rigidities and the business cycle," Working Paper Series WP-05-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  4. Justiniano, Alejandro & Primiceri, Giorgio E & Tambalotti, Andrea, 2008. "Investment Shocks and Business Cycles," CEPR Discussion Papers 6739, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Noah Williams & Andrew Levin & Alexei Onatski, 2005. "Monetary Policy under Uncertainty in Micro-Founded Macroeconometric Models," Computing in Economics and Finance 2005 478, Society for Computational Economics.
  6. Adolfson, Malin & Laseén, Stefan & Lindé, Jesper & Svensson, Lars E.O., 2008. "Optimal Monetary Policy in an Operational Medium-Sized DSGE Model," Working Paper Series 225, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Michael Kiley, 2010. "Output gaps," 2010 Meeting Papers 266, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  10. 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.
  11. Mark Gertler & Luca Sala & Antonella Trigari, 2008. "An Estimated Monetary DSGE Model with Unemployment and Staggered Nominal Wage Bargaining," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 40(8), pages 1713-1764, December.
  12. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 2009. "What do we know (and not know) about potential output?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 187-214.
  13. 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.
  14. Jean Boivin & Marc Giannoni, 2006. "DSGE Models in a Data-Rich Environment," NBER Working Papers 12772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. N. Gregory Mankiw & Julio J. Rotemberg & Lawrence H. Summers, 1982. "Intertemporal Substitution in Macroeconomics," NBER Working Papers 0898, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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.
  17. Sala, Luca & Söderström, Ulf & Trigari, Antonella, 2008. "Monetary policy under uncertainty in an estimated model with labor market frictions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(5), pages 983-1006, July.
  18. Sustek, Roman, 2009. "Monetary Business Cycle Accounting," MPRA Paper 17518, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
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