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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. 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.
  2. Lawrence J. Christiano & Mathias Trabandt & Karl Walentin, 2010. "Involuntary Unemployment and the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 15801, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Justiniano, Alejandro & Primiceri, Giorgio E & Tambalotti, Andrea, 2008. "Investment Shocks and Business Cycles," CEPR Discussion Papers 6739, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Boivin, J. & Giannoni, M., 2007. "DSGE Models in a Data-Rich Environment," Working papers 162, Banque de France.
  5. Michael T. Kiley, 2010. "Output gaps," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-27, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  6. 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.
  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. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Christopher J. Erceg & Dale W. Henderson & Andrew T. Levin, 1999. "Optimal monetary policy with staggered wage and price contracts," International Finance Discussion Papers 640, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. 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.
  14. Jermann, Urban & Quadrini, Vincenzo, 2009. "Macroeconomic Effects of Financial Shocks," CEPR Discussion Papers 7451, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. 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.
  16. N. Gregory Mankiw & Julio J. Rotemberg & Lawrence H. Summers, 1982. "Intertemporal Substitution in Macroeconomics," NBER Working Papers 0898, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. 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.
  18. Giorgio Primiceri & Alejandro Justiniano, 2009. "Potential and natural output," 2009 Meeting Papers 25, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  19. 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.
  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.
  21. 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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