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

Listed author(s):
  • Luca Sala
  • Ulf Soderstrom
  • Antonella Trigari

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 effcient 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 inecient 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 eciency of business cycle fluctations, and it provides an unsatisfactory explanation of labor market and business cycle dynamics.

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Paper provided by IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University in its series Working Papers with number 365.

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Date of creation: 2010
Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:365
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  1. Michael Kiley, 2010. "Output gaps," 2010 Meeting Papers 266, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Adolfson, Malin & Laséen, Stefan & Lindé, Jesper & Svensson, Lars E O, 2008. "Optimal Monetary Policy in an Operational Medium-Sized DSGE Model," CEPR Discussion Papers 6907, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Alejandro Justiniano & Giorgio E. Primiceri & Andrea Tambalotti, 2008. "Investment shocks and business cycles," Staff Reports 322, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  4. David E. Altig & Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Jesper Linde, 2004. "Firm-specific capital, nominal rigidities, and the business cycle," Working Paper 0416, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  5. Neiss, Katharine & Nelson, Edward, 2001. "The Real Interest rate Gap as an Inflation Indicator," CEPR Discussion Papers 2848, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. 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.
  7. Mathias Trabandt & Karl Walentin & Lawrence J. Christiano, 2010. "Involuntary Unemployment and the Business Cycle," 2010 Meeting Papers 129, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Sustek, Roman, 2009. "Monetary Business Cycle Accounting," MPRA Paper 17518, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Jean Boivin & Marc Giannoni, 2006. "DSGE Models in a Data-Rich Environment," NBER Working Papers 12772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Urban Jermann & Vincenzo Quadrini, 2012. "Macroeconomic Effects of Financial Shocks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 238-271, February.
  13. Andrew T. Levin & Alexei Onatski & John Williams & Noah M. Williams, 2006. "Monetary Policy Under Uncertainty in Micro-Founded Macroeconometric Models," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2005, Volume 20, pages 229-312 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Rochelle M. Edge & Michael T. Kiley & Jean-Philippe Laforte, 2007. "Natural rate measures in an estimated DSGE model of the U.S. economy," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-08, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. N. Gregory Mankiw & Julio J. Rotemberg & Lawrence H. Summers, 1985. "Intertemporal Substitution in Macroeconomics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(1), pages 225-251.
  20. Andrew Levin & Christopher J. Erceg & Dale W. Henderson, 1999. "Optimal Monetary Policy with Staggered Wage and Price Contracts," Computing in Economics and Finance 1999 1151, Society for Computational Economics.
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