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Uncertainty, Productivity and Unemployment in the Great Depression

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  • Edouard Schaal

    (Princeton University)

Abstract

The current 2007-2010 recession has witnessed two phenomena that standard search models of the labor market have diculty reconciling: a large and persistent increase in unemployment and a sharp rise, above pre-recession levels, in labor productivity following a small initial drop. In addition, these observations were accompanied by a signicant increase in the dispersion of rm growth rates. In this paper, I develop a tractable dynamic search model of heterogeneous rms with decreasing returns, in which I introduce uncertainty shocks. An increase in the idiosyncratic uncertainty faced by rms leads to higher unemployment, larger measured productivity, and more dispersion in rm growth rates. A combination of aggregate productivity and uncertainty shocks is able to explain many of the patterns observed in the ongoing recession, including the joint dynamics of unemployment and productivity. In addition to these ndings, the model performs well at explaining business cycle statistics in ordinary times and is able to reproduce a range of observations at the establishment and cross-sectional levels, such as the employment behavior of establishments.

Suggested Citation

  • Edouard Schaal, 2011. "Uncertainty, Productivity and Unemployment in the Great Depression," 2011 Meeting Papers 1450, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed011:1450
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marcus Hagedorn & Iourii Manovskii, 2008. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1692-1706, September.
    2. Leo Kaas & Philipp Kircher, 2015. "Efficient Firm Dynamics in a Frictional Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(10), pages 3030-3060, October.
    3. Guido Menzio & Shouyong Shi, 2011. "Efficient Search on the Job and the Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(3), pages 468-510.
    4. Acemoglu, Daron & Hawkins, William B., 2014. "Search with multi-worker firms," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 9(3), September.
    5. Leo Kaas & Philipp Kircher, 2015. "Efficient Firm Dynamics in a Frictional Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(10), pages 3030-3060, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mecikovsky, Ariel Matias & Meier, Matthias, 2014. "Do plants freeze upon uncertainty shocks?," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100541, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Kyle Herkenhoff, 2014. "The Impact of Consumer Credit Access on Unemployment," 2014 Meeting Papers 448, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Leo Kaas & Philipp Kircher, 2015. "Efficient Firm Dynamics in a Frictional Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(10), pages 3030-3060, October.
    4. Kyle Jurado & Sydney C. Ludvigson & Serena Ng, 2015. "Measuring Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(3), pages 1177-1216, March.
    5. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2012. "The Labor Productivity Puzzle," Book Chapters, in: Lee E. Ohanian & John B. Taylor & Ian J. Wright (ed.), Government Policies and the Delayed Economic Recovery, chapter 6, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
    6. Jeremy Lise & Jean-Marc Robin, 2017. "The Macrodynamics of Sorting between Workers and Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(4), pages 1104-1135, April.
    7. Davis, Steven J. & Faberman, R. Jason & Haltiwanger, John, 2012. "Labor market flows in the cross section and over time," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 1-18.
    8. Benjamin Griffy, 2018. "Borrowing Constraints, Search, and Life-Cycle Inequality," Discussion Papers 18-01, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
    9. Ryan A. Decker & Pablo N. D'Erasmo & Hernan Moscoso Boedo, 2016. "Market Exposure and Endogenous Firm Volatility over the Business Cycle," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 148-198, January.
    10. Ravn, Morten O. & Sterk, Vincent, 2017. "Job uncertainty and deep recessions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 125-141.
    11. N. Bloom., 2016. "Fluctuations in uncertainty," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 4.
    12. J. Carter Braxton & Gordon Phillips & Kyle Herkenhoff, 2018. "Can the Unemployed Borrow? Implications for Public Insurance," 2018 Meeting Papers 564, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    13. Steffen R. Henzel & Malte Rengel, 2017. "Dimensions Of Macroeconomic Uncertainty: A Common Factor Analysis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(2), pages 843-877, April.
    14. Thibaut Lamadon, 2014. "Productivity Shocks, Dynamic Contracts and Income Uncertainty," 2014 Meeting Papers 243, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    15. Cosmin Ilut & Matthias Kehrig & Martin Schneider, 2018. "Slow to Hire, Quick to Fire: Employment Dynamics with Asymmetric Responses to News," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 126(5), pages 2011-2071.
    16. Petr Sedláček & Vincent Sterk, 2017. "The Growth Potential of Startups over the Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(10), pages 3182-3210, October.
    17. Pablo D. Fajgelbaum & Edouard Schaal & Mathieu Taschereau-Dumouchel, 2017. "Uncertainty Traps," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(4), pages 1641-1692.
    18. Ay?egül ?ahin & Joseph Song & Giorgio Topa & Giovanni L. Violante, 2014. "Mismatch Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(11), pages 3529-3564, November.
    19. Jeremy Lise & Jean-Marc Robin, 2017. "The Macrodynamics of Sorting between Workers and Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(4), pages 1104-1135, April.
    20. Mayumi Ojima & Junnosuke Shino & Kozo Ueda, 2014. "Buyer-Size Discounts and Inflation Dynamics," CAMA Working Papers 2014-04, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    21. Wellschmied, Felix Maximilian & Bachmann, Rüdiger & Bayer, Christian & Seth, Stefan, 2013. "Cyclicality of Job and Worker Flows: New Data and a New Set of Stylized Facts," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79874, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    22. Leduc, Sylvain & Liu, Zheng, 2016. "Uncertainty shocks are aggregate demand shocks," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 20-35.
    23. Acemoglu, Daron & Hawkins, William B., 2014. "Search with multi-worker firms," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 9(3), September.
    24. Marina Azzimonti-Renzo, 2013. "The political polarization index," Working Papers 13-41, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    25. Kyle F. Herkenhoff, 2012. "Informal unemployment insurance and labor market dynamics," Working Papers 2012-057, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

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