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

  • 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
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Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:365
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  1. Jermann, Urban & Quadrini, Vincenzo, 2009. "Macroeconomic Effects of Financial Shocks," CEPR Discussion Papers 7451, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. 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.
  3. David Altig & Lawrence Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Jesper Linde, 2005. "Firm-Specific Capital, Nominal Rigidities and the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 11034, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Neiss, Katharine & Nelson, Edward, 2001. "The Real Interest rate Gap as an Inflation Indicator," CEPR Discussion Papers 2848, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Marc P. Giannoni & Jean Boivin, 2005. "DSGE Models in a Data-Rich Environment," Computing in Economics and Finance 2005 431, Society for Computational Economics.
  6. Justiniano, Alejandro & Primiceri, Giorgio E. & Tambalotti, Andrea, 2010. "Investment shocks and business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 132-145, March.
  7. Christiano, Lawrence J. & Trabrandt, Mathias & Walentin, Karl, 2010. "Involuntary Unemployment and the Business Cycle," Working Paper Series 238, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden), revised 01 Jun 2012.
  8. Malin Adolfson & Stefan Laséen & Jesper Lindé & Lars E.O. Svensson, 2011. "Optimal monetary policy in an operational medium-sized DSGE model," International Finance Discussion Papers 1023, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Andrew T. Levin & Alexei Onatski & John C. Williams & Noah Williams, 2005. "Monetary Policy Under Uncertainty in Micro-Founded Macroeconometric Models," NBER Working Papers 11523, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.).
  12. Kiley, Michael T., 2013. "Output gaps," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 1-18.
  13. 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.
  14. Giorgio Primiceri & Alejandro Justiniano, 2009. "Potential and natural output," 2009 Meeting Papers 25, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  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. Sustek, Roman, 2009. "Monetary Business Cycle Accounting," MPRA Paper 17518, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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