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Nominal Wage Stickiness and Aggregate Supply in the Great Depression

  • Ben S. Bernanke
  • Kevin Carey

Building on earlier work by Eichengreen and Sachs, we use data for 22 countries to study the role of wage stickiness in propagating the Great Depression. Recent research suggests that monetary shocks, transmitted internationally by the gold standard, were a major cause of the Depression. Accordingly, we use money supplies and other aggregate demand shifters as instruments to identify aggregate supply relationships. We find that nominal wages adjusted quite slowly to falling prices, and that the resulting increases in real wages depressed output. These findings leave open the question of why wages were so inertial in the face of extreme labor market conditions.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5439.

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Date of creation: Jan 1996
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Publication status: published as Quarterly Journal of Economics, August 1996, vol.111, no.3, pp.853-883.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5439
Note: EFG
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.org
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  1. Ben S. Bernanke, 1994. "The Macroeconomics of the Great Depression: A Comparative Approach," NBER Working Papers 4814, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Choudhri, Ehsan U & Kochin, Levis A, 1980. "The Exchange Rate and the International Transmission of Business Cycle Disturbances: Some Evidence from the Great Depression," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 12(4), pages 565-74, November.
  3. Robert E. Hall, 1980. "Employment Fluctuations and Wage Rigidity," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 11(1, Tenth ), pages 91-142.
  4. Peter Temin, 1991. "Lessons from the Great Depression," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262700441, June.
  5. Cooper, Russell, 1990. "Predetermined Wages and Prices and the Impact of Expansionary Government Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(2), pages 205-14, April.
  6. Eichengreen, Barry & Hatton, Tim, 1988. "Interwar Unemployment in International Perspective," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt7bw188gk, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  7. Ben Bernanke & Harold James, 1990. "The Gold Standard, Deflation, and Financial Crisis in the Great Depression: An International Comparison," NBER Working Papers 3488, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Walter Galenson & Arnold Zellner, 1957. "International Comparison of Unemployment Rates," NBER Chapters, in: The Measurement and Behavior of Unemployment, pages 439-584 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Ben Bemanke & Harold James, 1991. "The Gold Standard, Deflation, and Financial Crisis in the Great Depression: An International Comparison," NBER Chapters, in: Financial Markets and Financial Crises, pages 33-68 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Hamilton, James D., 1987. "Monetary factors in the great depression," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 145-169, March.
  11. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
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