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Re-Examining the Role of Sticky Wages in the U.S. Great Contraction: A Multi-sector Approach

We quantify the role of contractionary monetary shocks and wage rigidities in the U.S. Great Contraction. While the average economy-wide real wage varied little over 1929-33, real wages rose significantly in some industries. We calibrate a two-sector model with intermediates to the 1929 U.S. economy where wages in one sector adjust slowly. We find that nominal wage rigidities can account for less than a fifth of the fall in GDP over 1929-33. Intermediate linkages play a key role, as the output decline in our benchmark is roughly half as large as in our two-sector model without intermediates.

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Paper provided by University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute in its series University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute Working Papers with number 20125.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:uwo:epuwoc:20125
Contact details of provider: Postal: Economic Policy Research Institute, Social Science Centre, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5C2
Phone: 519-661-2111 Ext.85244
Web page: http://economics.uwo.ca/research/research_papers/epri_workingpapers.html

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  1. John W. Kendrick, 1961. "Productivity Trends in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend61-1, December.
  2. Robert J. Gordon, 1986. "Front matter, The American Business Cycle. Continuity and Change," NBER Chapters, in: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, pages -15 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian & Ron Leung, 2005. "Deflation and the international Great Depression: a productivity puzzle," Staff Report 356, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Timothy J. Kehoe & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Great Depressions of the Twentieth Century," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(1), pages 1-18, January.
  5. BOUAKEZ, Hafedh & CARDIA, Emanuela & RUGE-MURCIA, Francisco J., 2005. "The Transmission of Monetary Policy in a Multi-Sector Economy," Cahiers de recherche 20-2005, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  6. Bernanke, Ben S & Carey, Kevin, 1996. "Nominal Wage Stickiness and Aggregate Supply in the Great Depression," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(3), pages 853-83, August.
  7. Richard Rogerson & Akos Valentinyi & Berthold Herrendorf, 2007. "Growth and Structural Transformation," 2007 Meeting Papers 757, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Alston, Lee J. & Hatton, T. J., 1991. "The Earnings Gap Between Agricultural and Manufacturing Laborers, 1925–1941," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(01), pages 83-99, March.
  9. Christopher Hanes, 2000. "Nominal Wage Rigidity and Industry Characteristics in the Downturns of 1893, 1929, and 1981," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1432-1446, December.
  10. Robert J. Gordon, 1986. "The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gord86-1, December.
  11. Eichengreen, Barry & Hatton, Tim, 1988. "Interwar Unemployment in International Perspective," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt7bw188gk, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
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