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Creator: Ohanian, Lee E. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 285 Abstract:
Between 1929 and 1933, real output per adult fell over 30 percent and total factor productivity fell 18 percent. This productivity decrease is much larger than expected from just extrapolating the productivity decrease that typically occurs during recessions. This paper evaluates what factors may have caused this large decrease, including unmeasured factor utilization, changes in the composition of production, and increasing returns. I find that these factors combined explain less than one-third of the 18 percent decrease, and I conclude that the productivity decrease during the Great Depression remains a puzzle.
Tema: O47 - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence, N12 - Economic History: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations: U.S.; Canada: 1913-, and E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
Creator: Cole, Harold Linh, 1957- and Ohanian, Lee E. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 295 Abstract:
Between 1913 and 1929, real GDP per person in the UK fell 1 percent, while this same measure of economic activity rose about 25 percent in the rest of the world. Why was Britain so depressed in a decade of strong economic activity around the world? This paper argues that the standard explanations of contractionary monetary shocks and an overvalued nominal exchange rate are not the prime suspects for killing the British economy. Rather, we argue that large, negative sectoral shocks, coupled with generous unemployment benefits and housing subsidies, are the primary causes of this long and deep depression.
Palabra clave: Unemployment benefits, Workweek restriction, and Sectoral shocks Tema: E30 - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles: General (includes Measurement and Data) and E24 - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
Creator: Cole, Harold Linh, 1957- and Ohanian, Lee E. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 246 Abstract:
Many economists have worried about changes in the demand for money, since money demand shocks can affect output variability and have implications for monetary policy. This paper studies the theoretical implications of changes in money demand for the nonneutrality of money in the limited participation (liquidity) model and the predetermined (sticky) price model. In the liquidity model, we find that an important connection exists between the nonneutrality of money and the relative money demands of households and firms. This model predicts that the real effect of a money shock rose by 100 percent between 1952 and 1980, and subsequently declined 65 percent. In contrast, we find that the nonneutrality of money in the sticky price model is invariant to changes in money demands or other monetary factors. Several researchers have concluded from VAR analyses that the effects of money shock over time are roughly stable. This view is consistent with the predictions of the sticky price model, but is harder to reconcile with the specific pattern of time variation predicted by the liquidity model.
Palabra clave: Money shocks, Liquidity, Sticky prices, and Velocity Tema: E52 - Monetary Policy, E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, and E41 - Demand for Money
Creator: Ohanian, Lee E. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 248 Abstract:
This paper reviews The Defining Moment, edited by Michael D. Bordo, Claudia Goldin, and Eugene N. White. The volume studies how the Great Depression changed government policies, including changes in monetary policy, fiscal policy, banking policy, agricultural policy, social insurance, and international economic policy. I argue that a theory of policy evolution is required to answer how the Great Depression affected these policies. In the absence of this theory, the contributors provide insight into the question by showing how policies changed sharply in the 1930s with little or no historical precedent or by showing how policies were tied to political or other considerations unique to the period. While this volume doesn’t always provide answers to the questions posed, it does raise a fundamental issue in the analysis of government policy: Why during some crisis periods are bad policies adopted, whereas during other periods, they are not?
Tema: N12 - Economic History: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations: U.S.; Canada: 1913-
Creator: Cole, Harold Linh, 1957- and Ohanian, Lee E. Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 579 Abstract:
In the postwar period velocity has risen so sharply in the U.S. that the ratio of money to nominal output has fallen by a factor of three. We analyze the implications of shrinking money for the real effects of a monetary shock in two classes of equilibrium monetary business cycle models: limited participation (liquidity) models and predetermined (sticky) price models. We show that the liquidity model predicts that a rise in velocity leads to a substantial reduction in the real effects of a monetary shock. In sharp contrast, we show that the real effects of a monetary shock in the sticky price model are largely invariant to changes in velocity. We provide evidence that suggests that the real effects of monetary shocks have fallen over the postwar period.
Creator: Cole, Harold Linh, 1957- and Ohanian, Lee E. Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 566 Abstract:
Constant returns to scale is a central construct of neoclassical theory. Previous studies argued that one must adopt a specification of the production function with substantial unobserved service variation to reconcile constant returns with the data. Some economists have argued that this finding has not resolved the size of returns to scale, since factor service variation is unobserved, and there is no generally accepted theory to guide specification of this alternative framework. In this paper we show that the stochastic version of the neoclassical growth model delivers an orthogonality condition which can be used to estimate returns to scale. Rather than the standard finding of increasing returns, we show that standard theory and conventional measures of output and inputs yield estimates of constant returns to scale at the aggregate level. Our estimates also suggest that factor service variation is not an important determinant of output fluctuations.
Creator: Cole, Harold Linh, 1957- and Ohanian, Lee E. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 270 Abstract:
This paper quantitatively evaluates the hypothesis that deflation can account for much of the Great Depression (1929–33). We examine two popular explanations of the Depression: (1) The “high wage” story, according to which deflation, combined with imperfectly flexible wages, raised real wages and reduced employment and output. (2) The “bank failure” story, according to which deflationary money shocks contributed to bank failures and to a reduction in the efficiency of financial intermediation, which in turn reduced lending and output. We evaluate these stories using general equilibrium business cycle models, and find that wage shocks and banking shocks account for a small fraction of the Great Depression. We also find that some other predictions of the theories are at variance with the data.
Creator: Holmes, Thomas J. and Ohanian, Lee E. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 501 Abstract:
As part of compensation, municipal employees typically receive promises of future benefits. Motivated by the recent bankruptcy of Detroit, we develop a model of the equilibrium size of a city and use it to analyze how pay-with-promises schemes interact with city growth. The paper examines the circumstances under which a death spiral arises, where cutbacks of city services and increases in taxes lead to an exodus of residents, compounding financial distress. The model is put to work to analyze issues such as the welfare effects of having cities absorb pension risk and how unions affect the likelihood of a death spiral.
Palabra clave: Defined benefit pension plans, Death spiral, City growth, Pay with promises, Detroit, and Retiree health benefits Tema: H20 - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue: General, H75 - State and Local Government: Health; Education; Welfare; Public Pensions, R51 - Finance in Urban and Rural Economies, and R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics: Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population; Neighborhood Characteristics