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Uncertainty Shocks in a Model of Effective Demand

  • Susanto Basu
  • Brent Bundick

Can increased uncertainty about the future cause a contraction in output and its components? This paper examines the role of uncertainty shocks in a one-sector, representative-agent, dynamic, stochastic general-equilibrium model. When prices are flexible, uncertainty shocks are not capable of producing business-cycle comovements among key macroeconomic variables. With countercyclical markups through sticky prices, however, uncertainty shocks can generate fluctuations that are consistent with business cycles. Monetary policy usually plays a key role in offsetting the negative impact of uncertainty shocks. If the central bank is constrained by the zero lower bound, then monetary policy can no longer perform its usual stabilizing function and higher uncertainty has even more negative effects on the economy. We calibrate the size of uncertainty shocks using fluctuations in the VIX and find that increased uncertainty about the future may indeed have played a significant role in worsening the Great Recession, which is consistent with statements by policymakers, economists, and the financial press.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18420.

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Date of creation: Sep 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18420
Note: EFG ME
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