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Shopping Externalities and Self-Fulfilling Unemployment Fluctuations

Author

Listed:
  • Greg Kaplan

    (Department of Economics, Princeton University)

  • Guido Menzio

    (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

Abstract

We propose a novel theory of self-fulfilling fluctuations in the labor market. A firm employing an additional worker generates positive externalities on other firms, because employed workers have more income to spend and have less time to shop for low prices than unemployed workers. We quantify these shopping externalities and show that they are sufficiently strong to create strategic complementarities in the employment decisions of different firms and to generate multiple rational expectations equilibria. Equilibria differ with respect to the agents’ (rational) expectations about future unemployment. We show that negative shocks to agents’ expectations lead to fluctuations in vacancies, unemployment, labor productivity and the stock market that closely resemble those observed in the US during the Great Recession.

Suggested Citation

  • Greg Kaplan & Guido Menzio, 2012. "Shopping Externalities and Self-Fulfilling Unemployment Fluctuations," PIER Working Paper Archive 12-048, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:12-048
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Self-fulfilling fluctuations; strategic complementarity; unemployment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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