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Demand Shocks and Labor Market Dynamics: Firm Level Responses to a Commodity Boom

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Listed:
  • Sergio Urzua

    (University of Maryland, College Park)

  • Felipe Saffie

    (University of Maryland)

  • Felipe Benguria

    (University of Kentucky)

Abstract

This paper studies the role of labor markets in the transmission of commodity price super cycles, including the causal association between dynamic labor distortions and recessions during cycle busts. Our theoretical contributions emerge from a three-sector model of a small open economy with firm heterogeneity, entry and exit decisions, and skilled and unskilled labor. We show that during the boom, the commodity and non-tradable sectors expand, the skill wage premium narrows, and the non-commodity export sector contracts. During the bust, on the other hand, downward wage rigidity generates dynamic misallocation between sectors, triggering a persistent recession characterized by unemployment and a sluggish recovery of non-commodity exporters. This opens a door for precautionary policy during the boom. We then present empirical evidence to asses these mechanisms. In particular, we study the case of Brazil between 1996-2013, a period in which large commodity price fluctuations provided a clean quasi-natural experiment. We examine linked employer-employee data and exploit variation across commodities and across regions to measure the direct impact of commodity prices on labor market outcomes of both commodity producing firms and firms in other sectors of the economy. Our empirical evidence support our theoretical implications.

Suggested Citation

  • Sergio Urzua & Felipe Saffie & Felipe Benguria, 2017. "Demand Shocks and Labor Market Dynamics: Firm Level Responses to a Commodity Boom," 2017 Meeting Papers 1443, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed017:1443
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    File URL: https://economicdynamics.org/meetpapers/2017/paper_1443.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Carmen M. Reinhart & Vincent Reinhart & Christoph Trebesch, 2016. "Global Cycles: Capital Flows, Commodities, and Sovereign Defaults, 1815-2015," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(5), pages 574-580, May.
    2. Costa, Francisco & Garred, Jason & Pessoa, João Paulo, 2016. "Winners and losers from a commodities-for-manufactures trade boom," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 50-69.
    3. Schmitt-Grohé, Stephanie & Uribe, Martín, 2015. "How Important Are Terms Of Trade Shocks?," CEPR Discussion Papers 10655, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
    5. Fernández, Andrés & Schmitt-Grohé, Stephanie & Uribe, Martín, 2017. "World shocks, world prices, and business cycles: An empirical investigation," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(S1), pages 2-14.
    6. Rafael Dix-Carneiro & Brian K. Kovak, 2015. "Trade Reform and Regional Dynamics: Evidence From 25 Years of Brazilian Matched Employer-Employee Data," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 15-225, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    7. Rafael Dix-Carneiro & Brian K. Kovak, 2015. "Trade Reform and Regional Dynamics: Evidence From 25 Years of Brazilian Matched Employer-Employee Data," NBER Working Papers 20908, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Stephanie Schmitt-Grohé & Martín Uribe, 2016. "Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity, Currency Pegs, and Involuntary Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(5), pages 1466-1514.
    9. Hopenhayn, Hugo & Rogerson, Richard, 1993. "Job Turnover and Policy Evaluation: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(5), pages 915-938, October.
    10. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-1150, September.
    11. Dix Carneiro,Rafael & Kovak,Brian K., 2015. "Trade reform and regional dynamics : evidence from 25 years of Brazilian matched employer-employee data," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7205, The World Bank.
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