Creator: Chari, V. V., Kehoe, Patrick J., and Prescott, Edward C. Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 365 Keyword: Monetary policy, Decision making, Choice, Economic policy, and Macroeconomics Subject (JEL): D81 - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty and E61 - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
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.
Keyword: Aggregate financial economics, Development, Business cycle fluctuations, Prosperities, RBC methodology, Neoclassical growth theory, Depressions, Aggregate economic theory, and Aggregation Subject (JEL): B40 - Economic Methodology: General, E60 - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook: General, E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, E13 - General Aggregative Models: Neoclassical, C10 - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General, and E00 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics: General
Creator: Kehoe, Timothy Jerome, 1953- and Prescott, Edward C. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 418 Abstract:
Three of the arguments made by Temin (2008) in his review of Great Depressions of the Twentieth Century are demonstrably wrong: that the treatment of the data in the volume is cursory; that the definition of great depressions is too general and, in particular, groups slow growth experiences in Latin America in the 1980s with far more severe great depressions in Europe in the 1930s; and that the book is an advertisement for the real business cycle methodology. Without these three arguments — which are the results of obvious conceptual and arithmetical errors, including copying the wrong column of data from a source — his review says little more than that he does not think it appropriate to apply our dynamic general equilibrium methodology to the study of great depressions, and he does not like the conclusion that we draw: that a successful model of a great depression needs to be able to account for the effects of government policy on productivity.
Keyword: Economic fluctuations, General equilibrium models, and Depressions Subject (JEL): E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles and N10 - Economic History: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations: General, International, or Comparative
Creator: Prescott, Edward C. and Wallenius, Johanna Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 457 Abstract:
There have been tremendous advances in macroeconomics, following the introduction of labor supply into the field. Today it is widely acknowledged that labor supply matters for many key economic issues, particularly for business cycles and tax policy analysis. However, the extent to which labor supply matters for such questions depends on the aggregate labor supply elasticity—that is, the sensitivity of the time allocation between market and non-market activities to changes in the effective wage. The magnitude of the aggregate labor supply elasticity has been the subject of much debate for several decades. In this paper we review this debate and conclude that the elasticity of labor supply of the aggregate household is much higher than the elasticity of the identical households being aggregated. The aggregate household utility function differs from individuals’ utility functions for the same reason the aggregate production function differs from individual firms’ production functions being aggregated. The differences in individual and aggregate supply elasticities are what aggregation theory predicts.
Creator: Prescott, Edward C. and Wessel, Ryan Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 530 Abstract:
We explore monetary policy in a world without currency. In our world, money is a form of government debt that bears interest, which can be negative as well as positive. Services of money are a factor of production. We show that the national accounts must be revised in this world. Using our baseline economy, we determine the balanced growth paths for a set of money interest rate target policy regimes. Besides this interest rate, the only policy variable that differs across regimes is either the labor income tax rate or the inflation rate. We find that Friedman monetary satiation without deflation is possible. We also examine a set of inflation rate targeting regimes. Here, the only other policy variable that differs across policy regimes is the tax rate. There is a sequence of markets with outcome in each market being a Debreu valuation equilibrium, which determines the vector of assets and liabilities households take into the subsequent period. Evaluating a policy regime is an advanced exercise in public finance. Monetary satiation is not optimal even though money is costless to produce. A preliminary version of this paper circulated under the title “Monetary Policy with 100 Percent Reserve Banking: An Exploration.”
Keyword: Inflation rate targeting, 100 percent reserve banking, Interest rate targeting, Money in production function, and Friedman monetary satiation Subject (JEL): E40 - Money and Interest Rates: General, E60 - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook: General, E50 - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit: General, and E00 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics: General
Creator: Prescott, Edward C. and Wessel, Ryan Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 562 Abstract:
Businesses hold large quantities of cash reserves, which have average returns well below their investments in tangible capital. Businesses do this because these monetary assets provide services. One implication is that money services is a factor of production in capital theoretic valuation equilibrium models. Our aggregate production function is consistent with both the classical demand for money function relationship and with extended periods of near zero short-term nominal interest rates. In our model economy, there is a 100 percent reserve requirement on all demand deposits. Demand deposits are legal tender. We find (i) money services in the production function necessitates revisions in the national accounts; (ii) monetary and fiscal policy cannot be completely separated; (iii) for a given policy, equilibrium is either unique or does not exist; and (iv) Friedman’s monetary satiation is not optimal. We make quantitative comparisons between interest rate targeting regimes and between inflation rate targeting regimes. The best inflation rate target was 2 percent.
Keyword: Money in production function, Friedman monetary satiation, Interest rate targeting, Zero lower bound, Inflation rate targeting, and 100 percent reserve banking Subject (JEL): E00 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics: General, E60 - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook: General, E50 - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit: General, and E40 - Money and Interest Rates: General
Creator: Parente, Stephen L. and Prescott, Edward C. Series: Economic growth and development Abstract:
Technology change is modeled as the result of decisions of individuals and groups of individuals to adopt more advanced technologies. The structure is calibrated to the U.S. and postwar Japan growth experiences. Using this calibrated structure we explore how large the disparity in the effective tax rates on the returns to adopting technologies must be to account for the huge observed disparity in per capita income across countries. We find that this disparity is not implausibly large.
Subject (JEL): O33 - Technological change ; Research and development - Technological change : Choices and consequences ; Diffusion processes and O41 - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
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.
Keyword: Intangible capital, Nonneutral technology change, Labor productivity, Labor wedge, and RBC models Subject (JEL): E01 - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts, E13 - General Aggregative Models: Neoclassical, and E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
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.
Keyword: Government debt, Tax systems, Efficient taxation, and Quantitative OLG Subject (JEL): G18 - General Financial Markets: Government Policy and Regulation, G00 - Financial Economics: General, E20 - Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy: General (includes Measurement and Data), H21 - Taxation and Subsidies: Efficiency; Optimal Taxation, and H61 - National Budget; Budget Systems
Creator: Birkeland, Kathryn and Prescott, Edward C. Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 648 Abstract:
People are having longer retirement periods, and population growth is slowing and has even stopped in some countries. In this paper we determined the implications of these changes for the needed amount of government debt. The needed debt is near zero if there are high tax rates and the transfer share of gross national income (GNI) is high. But, with such a system there are huge dead-weight losses as the result of the high tax rate on labor income. With a savings system, a large government debt to annual GNI ratio is needed, as large as 5 times GNI, and welfare is as much as 24 percent higher in terms of lifetime consumption equivalents than the tax-and-transfer system.