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The Great Moderation and Changes in the Structure of Labor Compensation

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  • Francesco Nucci
  • Marianna Riggi

Abstract

A shift in the correlation structure of U.S. macroeconomic series has been documented by Galí and Gambetti (2009) with corresponding changes in the dynamic responses to shocks. We provide an explanation of these findings based on the observed change in the structure of labor compensation and, in particular, on the higher incidence since 1980s of performance-related pay schemes, which has increased the performance sensitivity of compensation. We capture this feature in a DSGE model of the New Keynesian type and show that this interpretation alone can account for the observed changes in the pattern of responses to shocks. In particular, with a higher sensitivity of compensation to workers performance, the response of labor productivity to a non-technology shock switches sign from positive to negative values and the contractionary effect on hours of a technology shock becomes of a smaller size in absolute terms. Alternative explanations of the Great Moderation based on structural changes fall short of accounting for both these documented changes in the dynamic responses to shocks.

Suggested Citation

  • Francesco Nucci & Marianna Riggi, 2009. "The Great Moderation and Changes in the Structure of Labor Compensation," Working Papers 124, University of Rome La Sapienza, Department of Public Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sap:wpaper:wp124
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Olivier J. Blanchard & Marianna Riggi, 2013. "WHY ARE THE 2000s SO DIFFERENT FROM THE 1970s? A STRUCTURAL INTERPRETATION OF CHANGES IN THE MACROECONOMIC EFFECTS OF OIL PRICES," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(5), pages 1032-1052, October.
    2. Richard Clarida & Jordi Galí & Mark Gertler, 2000. "Monetary Policy Rules and Macroeconomic Stability: Evidence and Some Theory," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(1), pages 147-180.
    3. Cuñat, Vicente & Guadalupe, Maria, 2006. "Globalization and the Provision of Incentives Inside the Firm," CEPR Discussion Papers 5950, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Luca Gambetti & Jordi Galí, 2009. "On the Sources of the Great Moderation," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 26-57, January.
    5. Olivier Blanchard & John Simon, 2001. "The Long and Large Decline in U.S. Output Volatility," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(1), pages 135-174.
    6. Alejandro Justiniano & Giorgio E. Primiceri, 2008. "The Time-Varying Volatility of Macroeconomic Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 604-641, June.
    7. Efrem Castelnuovo & Paolo Surico, 2005. "The Price Puzzle: Fact or Artefact?," Macroeconomics 0505015, EconWPA, revised 19 Jul 2005.
    8. Luca Benati & Paolo Surico, 2009. "VAR Analysis and the Great Moderation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1636-1652, September.
    9. Vicente Cuñat & Maria Guadalupe, 2005. "How Does Product Market Competition Shape Incentive Contracts?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(5), pages 1058-1082, September.
    10. Olivier J. Blanchard & Jordi Gali, 2007. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Oil Shocks: Why are the 2000s So Different from the 1970s?," NBER Working Papers 13368, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Riggi, Marianna & Tancioni, Massimiliano, 2010. "Nominal vs real wage rigidities in New Keynesian models with hiring costs: A Bayesian evaluation," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 1305-1324, July.
    12. Brian J. Hall & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1998. "Are CEOs Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 653-691.
    13. Giorgio E. Primiceri, 2005. "Time Varying Structural Vector Autoregressions and Monetary Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(3), pages 821-852.
    14. Galí, Jordi & Rabanal, Pau, 2004. "Technology Shocks and Aggregate Fluctuations: How Well Does the RBC Model Fit Post-War US Data?," CEPR Discussion Papers 4522, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. Bils, Mark & Cho, Jang-Ok, 1994. "Cyclical factor utilization," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 319-354, April.
    16. Marianna Riggi, 2010. "Nominal And Real Wage Rigidities In New Keynesian Models: A Critical Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(3), pages 539-572, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jordi Galí & Thijs van Rens, 2008. "The vanishing procyclicality of labor productivity," Economics Working Papers 1230, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jul 2010.
    2. Cantore, C. & Ferroni, F. & León-Ledesma, M A., 2011. "Interpreting the Hours-Technology time-varying relationship," Working papers 351, Banque de France.
    3. John G. Fernald & J. Christina Wang, 2016. "Why Has the Cyclicality of Productivity Changed? What Does It Mean?," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 8(1), pages 465-496, October.
    4. Wang, J. Christina, 2014. "Vanishing procyclicality of productivity?: industry evidence," Working Papers 14-15, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods

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