Creator: McGrattan, Ellen R. and Prescott, Edward C. Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 694 Abstract:
Prior to the mid-1980s, labor productivity growth was a useful barometer of the U.S. economy’s performance: it was low when the economy was depressed and high when it was booming. Since then, labor productivity has become significantly less procyclical. In the recent downturn of 2008–2009, labor productivity actually rose as GDP plummeted. These facts have motivated the development of new business cycle theories because the conventional view is that they are inconsistent with existing business cycle theory. In this paper, we analyze recent events with existing theory and find that the labor productivity puzzle is much less of a puzzle than previously thought. In light of these findings, we argue that policy agendas arising from new untested theories should be disregarded.
Stichwort: Labor productivity, Nonneutral technology change, RBC models, Intangible capital, and Labor wedge Fach: E13 - General Aggregative Models: Neoclassical, E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, and E01 - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts
Creator: Prescott, Edward C. Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 692 Abstract:
A problem facing the United States and many other countries is how to finance retirement consumption as the number of their workers per retiree falls. The problem with a savings for retirement systems is that there is a shortage of good savings opportunities given the nature of most current tax systems and governments’ limited ability to honor the debt it issues. We find that eliminating capital income taxes will greatly increase saving opportunities and make a savings-for-retirement system feasible with only modest amount of government debt. The switch from a system close to the current U.S. retirement system, which relies heavily on taxing workers’ incomes and making lump-sum transfers to retirees, to one without income taxes will increase the welfare of all birth-year cohorts alive today and particularly the welfare of the yet unborn cohorts. The equilibrium paths for the current and alternative policies are computed.
Stichwort: Quantitative OLG, Government debt, Efficient taxation, and Tax systems Fach: H61 - National Budget; Budget Systems, E20 - Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy: General (includes Measurement and Data), G18 - General Financial Markets: Government Policy and Regulation, H21 - Taxation and Subsidies: Efficiency; Optimal Taxation, and G00 - Financial Economics: General
Creator: Holmes, Thomas J., McGrattan, Ellen R., and Prescott, Edward C. Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 687 Abstract:
It is widely believed that an important factor underlying the rapid growth in China is increased foreign direct investment (FDI) and the transfer of foreign technology capital, which is accumulated know-how from investment in research and development (R&D), brands, and organizations that is not specific to a plant. In this paper, we study two channels through which FDI can contribute to upgrading of the stock of technology capital: knowledge spillovers and appropriation. Knowledge spillovers lead to new ideas that do not directly compete or devalue the foreign affiliate's stock. Appropriation, on the other hand, implies a redistribution of property rights over patents and trademarks; the gain to domestic companies comes at a loss to the multinational company (MNC). In this paper we build these sources of technology capital transfer into the framework developed by McGrattan and Prescott (2009, 2010) and introduce an endogenously-chosen intensity margin for operating technology capital in order to capture the trade-offs MNCs face when expanding their markets internationally. We first demonstrate that abstracting from technology capital transfers results in predicted bilateral FDI inflows to China that are grossly at odds with the data. We then use the bilateral inflows to parameterize the model with technology capital transfers and compute the global economic impact of Chinese policies that encouraged greater inflows of FDI and technology capital transfers. Microevidence on automobile patents is used to support our parameter choices and main findings.
Fach: O34 - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital, O33 - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes, F41 - Open Economy Macroeconomics, and F23 - Multinational Firms; International Business
Creator: McGrattan, Ellen R. and Prescott, Edward C. Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 646 Abstract:
Over the period 1982–2006, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) estimates the return on investments of foreign subsidiaries of U.S. multinational companies averaged 9.4 percent per year after taxes while U.S. subsidiaries of foreign multinationals earned on average only 3.2 percent. We estimate the importance of two factors that distort BEA returns: technology capital and plant-specific intangible capital. Technology capital is accumulated know-how from intangible investments in R&D, brands, and organizations that can be used in foreign and domestic locations. Technology capital used abroad generates profits for foreign subsidiaries with no foreign direct investment. Plant-specific intangible capital in foreign subsidiaries is expensed abroad, lowering current profits on foreign direct investment (FDI) and increasing future profits. We develop a multicountry general equilibrium model with an essential role for FDI and apply the same methodology as the BEA to construct economic statistics for the model economy. We estimate that mismeasurement of intangible investments accounts for over 60 percent of the difference in BEA returns.
Fach: F32 - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements and F23 - Multinational Firms; International Business
Creator: McGrattan, Ellen R. and Prescott, Edward C. Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 610 Abstract:
U.S. stock prices have increased much faster than gross domestic product GDP) in the postwar period. Between 1962 and 2000, corporate equity value relative to GDP nearly doubled. In this paper, we determine what standard growth theory says the equity value should be in 1962 and 2000, the two years for which our steady-state assumption is a reasonable one. We find that the actual valuations were close to the theoretical predictions in both years. The reason for the large run-up in equity value relative to GDP is that the average tax rate on dividends fell dramatically between 1962 and 2000. We also find that, given legal constraints that effectively prohibited the holding of stocks as reserves for pension plans, there is no equity premium puzzle in the postwar period. The average returns on debt and equity are as theory predicts.
Fach: E13 - General Aggregative Models: Neoclassical, G12 - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates, and H30 - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents: General
Creator: Prescott, Edward C. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 527 Abstract:
This essay reviews the development of neoclassical growth theory, a unified theory of aggregate economic phenomena that was first used to study business cycles and aggregate labor supply. Subsequently, the theory has been used to understand asset pricing, growth miracles and disasters, monetary economics, capital accounts, aggregate public finance, economic development, and foreign direct investment.
The focus of this essay is on real business cycle (RBC) methodology. Those who employ the discipline behind the methodology to address various quantitative questions come up with essentially the same answer—evidence that the theory has a life of its own, directing researchers to essentially the same conclusions when they apply its discipline. Deviations from the theory sometimes arise and remain open for a considerable period before they are resolved by better measurement and extensions of the theory. Elements of the discipline include selecting a model economy or sometimes a set of model economies. The model used to address a specific question or issue must have a consistent set of national accounts with all the accounting identities holding. In addition, the model assumptions must be consistent across applications and be consistent with micro as well as aggregate observations. Reality is complex, and any model economy used is necessarily an abstraction and therefore false. This does not mean, however, that model economies are not useful in drawing scientific inference.
The vast number of contributions made by many researchers who have used this methodology precludes reviewing them all in this essay. Instead, the contributions reviewed here are ones that illustrate methodological points or extend the applicability of neoclassical growth theory. Of particular interest will be important developments subsequent to the Cooley (1995) volume, Frontiers of Business Cycle Research. The interaction between theory and measurement is emphasized because this is the way in which hard quantitative sciences progress.
Stichwort: Development, Neoclassical growth theory, Prosperities, Aggregation, Aggregate economic theory, RBC methodology, Aggregate financial economics, Depressions, and Business cycle fluctuations Fach: C10 - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General, E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, E00 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics: General, E13 - General Aggregative Models: Neoclassical, B40 - Economic Methodology: General, and E60 - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook: General
Creator: McGrattan, Ellen R. and Prescott, Edward C. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 369 Abstract:
For the 1990s, the basic neoclassical growth model predicts a depressed economy, when in fact the U.S. economy boomed. We extend the base model by introducing intangible investment and non-neutral technology change with respect to producing intangible investment goods and find that the 1990s are not puzzling in light of this new theory. There is micro and macro evidence motivating our extension, and the theory’s predictions are in conformity with U.S. national accounts and capital gains. We compare accounting measures with corresponding measures for our model economy. We find that standard accounting measures greatly understate the 1990s boom.
Stichwort: Productivity, Hours, and Intangible Investment Fach: E23 - Macroeconomics: Production, O33 - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes, O47 - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence, and E22 - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
Creator: Parente, Stephen L. and Prescott, Edward C. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 333 Abstract:
This essay develops a theory of the evolution of international income levels. In particular, it augments the Hansen-Prescott theory of economic development with the Parente-Prescott theory of relative efficiencies and shows that the unified theory accounts for the evolution of international income levels over the last millennium. The essence of this unified theory is that a country starts to experience sustained increases in its living standard when production efficiency reaches a critical point. Countries reach this critical level of efficiency at different dates not because they have access to different stocks of knowledge, but rather because they differ in the amount of society-imposed constraints on the technology choices of their citizenry.
Stichwort: Transition to modern economic growth, Trading clubs, Capital share, Aggregate economic efficiency, and Catch-up Fach: O19 - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations, E00 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics: General, F40 - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance: General, and O11 - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development