This paper proposes a simple method for guiding researchers in developing quantitative models of economic fluctuations. We show that a large class of models, including models with various frictions, are equivalent to a prototype growth model with time varying wedges that, at least on face value, look like time-varying productivity, labor taxes, and capital income taxes. We label the time varying wedges as efficiency wedges, labor wedges, and investment wedges. We use data to measure these wedges and then feed them back into the prototype growth model. We then assess the fraction of fluctuations accounted for by these wedges during the great depressions of the 1930s in the United States, Germany, and Canada. We find that the efficiency and labor wedges in combination account for essentially all of the declines and subsequent recoveries. Investment wedge plays at best a minor role.
This paper presents a simple counterexample to the belief that policy cooperation among benevolent governments is desirable. It also explains circumstances under which such counterexamples are possible and relates them to the literature on time inconsistency.
This paper examines the limiting behavior of cooperative and noncooperative fiscal policies as countries market power goes to zero. In the first part we provide sufficient conditions for these policies to converge. In the second part we provide examples where these policies diverge. Briefly, we show that if there are unremovable domestic distortions then there can be gains to coordination between countries even when countries have no ability to affect world prices. These results are at variance with the received wisdom in the optimal tariff literature. The key distinction is that we model explicitly the spending decisions of the government while the optimal tariff literature does not.
These notes are intended as a do-it-yourself course in economic growth along lines suggested by Lucas ("On the Mechanics of Economic Development"). We examine in turn the neoclassical growth model; theories of endogenous growth, including learning-by-doing, increasing returns to scale, and externalities; and dynamic comparative advantage in trade. Salient features of growing economies and microeconomic evidence on production processes are used to evaluate alternatives. Exercises supplement the text.
We show that some classes of sterilized interventions have no effect on equilibrium prices or quantities. The proof does not depend on complete markets, infinitely-lived agents, Ricardian equivalence, monetary neutrality, or the law of one price. Moreover, regressions of exchange rates or interest differentials on variables measuring the currency composition of the debt may contain no information, in our theoretical economy, about the effectiveness of such interventions. Another class of interventions requires simultaneous changes in monetary and fiscal policy; their effects depend, generally, on the influence of tax distortions, government spending, and money supplies on economic behavior. We suggest that in applying the portfolio balance approach to the study of intervention, lack 01 explicit modeling of these features is a serious flaw.