IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/6071.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Money, Sticky Wages, and the Great Depression

Author

Listed:
  • Michael D. Bordo
  • Christopher J. Erceg
  • Charles L. Evans

Abstract

This paper examines the ability of a simple stylized general equilibrium model that incorporates nominal wage rigidity to explain the magnitude and persistence of the Great Depression in the United States. The impulses to our analysis are money supply shocks. The Taylor contracts model is surprisingly successful in accounting for the behavior of major macroaggregates and real wages during the downturn phase of the Depression, i.e., from 1929:3 through mid-1933. Our analysis provides support for the hypothesis that a monetary contraction operating through a sticky wage channel played a significant role in accounting for the downturn, and also provides an interesting refinement to this explanation. In particular, both the absolute severity of the Depression's downturn and its relative severity compared to the 1920-21 recession are likely attributable to the price decline having a much larger unanticipated component during the Depression, as well as less flexible wage-setting practices during this latter period. Another finding casts doubt on explanations for the 1933-36 recovery that rely heavily on the substantial remonetization that began in 1933.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Bordo & Christopher J. Erceg & Charles L. Evans, 1997. "Money, Sticky Wages, and the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 6071, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6071
    Note: DAE ME
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w6071.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Taylor, John B, 1980. "Aggregate Dynamics and Staggered Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(1), pages 1-23, February.
    2. Christina D. Romer, 1990. "The Great Crash and the Onset of the Great Depression," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(3), pages 597-624.
    3. Cecchetti, Stephen G & Karras, Georgios, 1994. "Sources of Output Fluctuations during the Interwar Period: Further Evidence on the Causes of the Great Depression," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(1), pages 80-102, February.
    4. Nathan Balke & Robert J. Gordon, 1986. "Appendix B: Historical Data," NBER Chapters, in: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, pages 781-850, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Robert G. King, 1991. "Money and business cycles," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
    6. Michael D. Bordo, 1989. "The Contribution of "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960" to Monetary History," NBER Chapters, in: Money, History, and International Finance: Essays in Honor of Anna J. Schwartz, pages 15-78, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Crucini, Mario J. & Kahn, James, 1996. "Tariffs and aggregate economic activity: Lessons from the Great Depression," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 427-467, December.
    8. Evans, Martin & Wachtel, Paul, 1993. "Were price changes during the Great Depression anticipated? : Evidence from nominal interest rates," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 3-34, August.
    9. Ben S. Bernanke & Kevin Carey, 1996. "Nominal Wage Stickiness and Aggregate Supply in the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 5439, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Hamilton, James D, 1992. "Was the Deflation during the Great Depression Anticipated? Evidence from the Commodity Futures Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 157-178, March.
    11. Christina D. Romer, 1993. "The Nation in Depression," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 19-39, Spring.
    12. Gray, Jo Anna, 1976. "Wage indexation: A macroeconomic approach," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 221-235, April.
    13. Christopher J. Erceg & Michael D. Bordo & Charles L. Evans, 2000. "Money, Sticky Wages, and the Great Depression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1447-1463, December.
    14. Matthew D. Shapiro, 1986. "The Dynamic Demand for Capital and Labor," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(3), pages 513-542.
    15. Christopher J. Erceg & Dale W. Henderson & Andrew T. Levin, 2019. "Optimal Monetary Policy with Staggered Wage and Price Contracts," Credit and Capital Markets, Credit and Capital Markets, vol. 52(4), pages 537-571.
    16. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Kahn, Charles M, 1980. "The Solution of Linear Difference Models under Rational Expectations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(5), pages 1305-1311, July.
    17. Lutz Kilian, 1999. "Finite-Sample Properties of Percentile and Percentile-t Bootstrap Confidence Intervals for Impulse Responses," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 652-660, November.
    18. Louis Phaneuf & Jang-Ok Cho, 1992. "A Business Cycle Model with Nominal Wage Contracts and Government," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 6, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal, revised Jan 1993.
    19. Bernanke, Ben S, 1983. "Nonmonetary Effects of the Financial Crisis in Propagation of the Great Depression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 257-276, June.
    20. Bordo Michael D. & Kydland Finn E., 1995. "The Gold Standard As a Rule: An Essay in Exploration," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 423-464, October.
    21. Bordo, Michael D & Choudhri, Ehsan U & Schwartz, Anna J, 1995. "Could Stable Money Have Averted the Great Contraction?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(3), pages 484-505, July.
    22. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 1999. "The Great Depression in the United States from a neoclassical perspective," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, vol. 23(Win), pages 2-24.
    23. Barry Eichengreen, 1992. "The origins and nature of the Great Slump revisited," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 45(2), pages 213-239, May.
    24. Claudia Goldin & Robert A. Margo, 1992. "The Great Compression: The Wage Structure in the United States at Mid-Century," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 1-34.
    25. repec:hrv:faseco:30703979 is not listed on IDEAS
    26. Romer, Christina D., 1992. "What Ended the Great Depression?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(4), pages 757-784, December.
    27. Bernanke, Ben S, 1995. "The Macroeconomics of the Great Depression: A Comparative Approach," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(1), pages 1-28, February.
    28. Mishkin, Frederic S., 1978. "The Household Balance Sheet and the Great Depression," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(4), pages 918-937, December.
    29. Peter Temin, 1991. "Lessons from the Great Depression," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262700441, December.
    30. Jinill Kim, 1998. "Monetary policy in a stochastic equilibrium model with real and nominal rigidities," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-02, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    31. Christopher J. Erceg, 1997. "Nominal wage rigidities and the propagation of monetary disturbances," International Finance Discussion Papers 590, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    32. Anthony Patrick O'Brien, 1989. "A Behavioral Explanation for Nominal Wage Rigidity During the Great Depression," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(4), pages 719-735.
    33. Meltzer, Allan H., 1976. "Monetary and other explanations of the start of the great depression," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 455-471, November.
    34. Ben S. Bernanke & Kevin Carey, 1996. "Nominal Wage Stickiness and Aggregate Supply in the Great Depression," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(3), pages 853-883.
    35. Charles W. Calomiris, 1993. "Financial Factors in the Great Depression," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 61-85, Spring.
    36. Fischer, Stanley, 1977. "Long-Term Contracts, Rational Expectations, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 191-205, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Lawrence J. Christiano & Roberto Motto & Massimo Rostagno, 2003. "The Great Depression and the Friedman-Schwartz hypothesis," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 1119-1215.
    2. Bordo, Michael D. & Schwartz, Anna J., 1999. "Monetary policy regimes and economic performance: The historical record," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 3, pages 149-234, Elsevier.
    3. Luca Pensieroso, 2007. "Real Business Cycle Models Of The Great Depression: A Critical Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(1), pages 110-142, February.
    4. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2001. "Re-Examining the Contributions of Money and Banking Shocks to the U.S. Great Depression," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2000, Volume 15, pages 183-260, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Gregor W. Smith, 2006. "The spectre of deflation: a review of empirical evidence," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1041-1072, November.
    6. Breitenlechner, Max & Mathy, Gabriel P. & Scharler, Johann, 2021. "Decomposing the U.S. Great Depression: How important were loan supply shocks?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    7. Bernanke, Ben S, 1995. "The Macroeconomics of the Great Depression: A Comparative Approach," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(1), pages 1-28, February.
    8. Karau, Sören, 2020. "Buried in the vaults of central banks: Monetary gold hoarding and the slide into the Great Depression," Discussion Papers 63/2020, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    9. Cooper, Russell & Ejarque, Joao, 1995. "Financial intermediation and the Great Depression: a multiple equilibrium interpretation," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 285-323, December.
    10. Ellison, Martin & Lee, Sang Seok & O'Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj, 2020. "The Ends of 30 Big Depressions," CEPR Discussion Papers 15061, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Harrison, Sharon G. & Weder, Mark, 2006. "Did sunspot forces cause the Great Depression?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1327-1339, October.
    12. Susanto Basu & Alan M. Taylor, 1999. "Business Cycles in International Historical Perspective," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 45-68, Spring.
    13. Klug, Adam & Landon-Lane, John S. & White, Eugene N., 2005. "How could everyone have been so wrong? Forecasting the Great Depression with the railroads," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 27-55, January.
    14. Randall E. Parker & Philip Rothman, 2004. "An Examination of the Asymmetric Effects of Money Supply Shocks in the Pre--World War I and Interwar Periods," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 42(1), pages 88-100, January.
    15. Erceg, Christopher J. & Levin, Andrew T., 2003. "Imperfect credibility and inflation persistence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 915-944, May.
    16. Pedro Amaral & James C. MacGee, 2002. "The Great Depression in Canada and the United States: A Neoclassical Perspective," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(1), pages 45-72, January.
    17. Weber Ernst Juerg, 2010. "The Role of the Real Interest Rate in U.S. Macroeconomic History," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-26, April.
    18. Bordo, Michael D. & Haubrich, Joseph G., 2010. "Credit crises, money and contractions: An historical view," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 1-18, January.
    19. Nicholas Crafts & Peter Fearon, 2010. "Lessons from the 1930s Great Depression," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(3), pages 285-317, Autumn.
    20. Maurice Obstfeld & Alan M. Taylor, 2003. "Globalization and Capital Markets," NBER Chapters, in: Globalization in Historical Perspective, pages 121-188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6071. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.