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Uncertainty, Productivity and Unemployment in the Great Depression

  • Edouard Schaal

    (Princeton University)

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    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.

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    Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2011 Meeting Papers with number 1450.

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    Date of creation: 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:red:sed011:1450
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA
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    1. Guido Menzio & Shouyong Shi, 2008. "Efficient Search on the Job and the Business Cycle," PIER Working Paper Archive 08-029, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    2. R?diger Bachmann & Steffen Elstner & Eric R. Sims, 2013. "Uncertainty and Economic Activity: Evidence from Business Survey Data," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 217-49, April.
    3. Leo Kaas & Philipp Kircher, 2015. "Efficient Firm Dynamics in a Frictional Labor Market," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2015-09, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
    4. Robert E. Hall, 2005. "Employment Fluctuations with Equilibrium Wage Stickiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 50-65, March.
    5. Ruediger Bachmann & Christian Bayer, 2009. "Firm-Specific Productivity Risk over the Business Cycle: Facts and Aggregate Implications," CESifo Working Paper Series 2844, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Shigeru Fujita & Makoto Nakajima, 2013. "Worker flows and job flows: a quantitative investigation," Working Papers 13-09, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    7. Hawkins, William B. & Acemoglu, Daron, 2014. "Search with multi-worker firms," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 9(3), September.
    8. Giuseppe Moscarini & Fabien Postel-Vinay, 2009. "Large Employers Are More Cyclically Sensitive," NBER Working Papers 14740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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