Creator: Chari, V. V., Kehoe, Patrick J., and McGrattan, Ellen R. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 384 Abstract:
We make three comparisons relevant for the business cycle accounting approach. We show that in theory, representing the investment wedge as a tax on investment is equivalent to representing this wedge as a tax on capital income as long as the probability distributions over this wedge in the two representations are the same. In practice, convenience dictates that the underlying probability distributions over the investment wedge are different in the two representations. Even so, the quantitative results under the two representations are essentially identical. We also compare our methodology, the CKM methodology, to an alternative one used in Christiano and Davis (2006) and by us in early incarnations of the business cycle accounting approach. We argue that the CKM methodology rests on more secure theoretical foundations. Finally, we show that the results from the VAR-style decomposition of Christiano and Davis reinforce the results of the business cycle decomposition of CKM.
Keyword: Equivalence results, Recession, Wedges, and Distortions Subject (JEL): E17 - General Aggregative Models: Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications, E44 - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy, E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, E65 - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes, E13 - General Aggregative Models: Neoclassical, and E47 - Money and Interest Rates: Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
Creator: McGrattan, Ellen R. and Prescott, Edward C. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 494 Abstract:
During the downturn of 2008–2009, output and hours fell significantly while labor productivity rose. These facts have led many to conclude that there is a significant deviation between observations and current macrotheories that assume business cycles are driven, at least in part, by fluctuations in total factor productivities of firms. We show that once investment in intangible capital is included in the analysis, there is no inconsistency. Measured labor productivity rises if the fall in output is underestimated; this occurs when there are large unmeasured intangible investments. Microevidence suggests that these investments are large and cyclically important.
Keyword: Intangible capital, Productivity, and Business cycles Subject (JEL): E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles and E13 - General Aggregative Models: Neoclassical
Creator: Chari, V. V., Kehoe, Patrick J., and McGrattan, Ellen R. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 364 Abstract:
The central finding of the recent structural vector autoregression (SVAR) literature with a differenced specification of hours is that technology shocks lead to a fall in hours. Researchers have used this finding to argue that real business cycle models are unpromising. We subject this SVAR specification to a natural economic test and show that when applied to data from a multiple-shock business cycle model, the procedure incorrectly concludes that the model could not have generated the data as long as demand shocks play a nontrivial role. We also test another popular specification, which uses the level of hours, and show that with nontrivial demand shocks, it cannot distinguish between real business cycle models and sticky price models. The crux of the problem for both SVAR specifications is that available data require a VAR with a small number of lags and such a VAR is a poor approximation to the model’s VAR.
Keyword: Vector autoregressions, Real business cycle, Technology shocks, and Impulse response Subject (JEL): E20 - Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy: General (includes Measurement and Data), E30 - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles: General (includes Measurement and Data), E37 - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles: Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications, E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, E13 - General Aggregative Models: Neoclassical, C51 - Model Construction and Estimation, and C32 - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models: Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes; State Space Models
Creator: Kehoe, Patrick J., Midrigan, Virgiliu, and Pastorino, Elena Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 566 Abstract:
Modern business cycle theory focuses on the study of dynamic stochastic general equilibrium models that generate aggregate fluctuations similar to those experienced by actual economies. We discuss how this theory has evolved from its roots in the early real business cycle models of the late 1970s through the turmoil of the Great Recession four decades later. We document the strikingly different pattern of comovements of macro aggregates during the Great Recession compared to other postwar recessions, especially the 1982 recession. We then show how two versions of the latest generation of real business cycle models can account, respectively, for the aggregate and the cross-regional fluctuations observed in the Great Recession in the United States.
Keyword: New Keynesian models, Financial frictions, and External validation Subject (JEL): E52 - Monetary Policy, E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, E13 - General Aggregative Models: Neoclassical, and E61 - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
Creator: Conesa, Juan Carlos, Kehoe, Timothy Jerome, 1953-, and Ruhl, Kim J. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 401 Abstract:
This paper is a primer on the great depressions methodology developed by Cole and Ohanian (1999, 2007) and Kehoe and Prescott (2002, 2007). We use growth accounting and simple dynamic general equilibrium models to study the depression that occurred in Finland in the early 1990s. We find that the sharp drop in real GDP over the period 1990–93 was driven by a combination of a drop in total factor productivity (TFP) during 1990–92 and of increases in taxes on labor and consumption and increases in government consumption during 1989–94, which drove down hours worked in Finland. We attempt to endogenize the drop in TFP in variants of the model with an investment sector and with terms-of-trade shocks but are unsuccessful.
Subject (JEL): F59 - International Relations and International Political Economy: Other, F41 - Open Economy Macroeconomics, E50 - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit: General, E13 - General Aggregative Models: Neoclassical, and E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
Creator: Christiano, Lawrence J. and Harrison, Sharon G. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 214 Abstract:
We study a one-sector growth model which is standard except for the presence of an externality in the production function. The set of competitive equilibria is large. It includes constant equilibria, sunspot equilibria, cyclical and chaotic equilibria, and equilibria with deterministic or stochastic regime switching. The efficient allocation is characterized by constant employment and a constant growth rate. We identify an income tax-subsidy schedule that supports the efficient allocation as the unique equilibrium outcome. That schedule has two properties: (i) it specifies the tax rate to be an increasing function of aggregate employment, and (ii) earnings are subsidized when aggregate employment is at its efficient level. The first feature eliminates inefficient, fluctuating equilibria, while the second induces agents to internalize the externality.
Keyword: Business cycle, Regime switching, Stabilization, Fiscal policy, and Multiple equilibria Subject (JEL): E62 - Fiscal Policy, E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, and E13 - General Aggregative Models: Neoclassical
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: McGrattan, Ellen R. Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 670 Abstract:
Previous studies quantifying the effects of increased taxation during the U.S. Great Depression find that its contribution is small, in accounting for both the downturn in the early 1930s and the slow recovery after 1934. This paper shows that this conclusion rests critically on the assumption that the only taxable capital income is business profits. Effects of capital taxation are much larger when taxes on property, capital stock, excess profits, undistributed profits, and dividends are included in the analysis. When fed into a general equilibrium model, the increased taxes imply significant declines in investment and equity values and nontrivial declines in gross domestic product (GDP) and hours of work. Of particular importance during the Great Depression was the dramatic rise in the effective tax rate on corporate dividends.
Subject (JEL): E13 - General Aggregative Models: Neoclassical, E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, and H25 - Business Taxes and Subsidies including sales and value-added (VAT)
Creator: McGrattan, Ellen R. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 451 Abstract:
Previous studies of the U.S. Great Depression find that increased government spending and taxation contributed little to either the dramatic downturn or the slow recovery. These studies include only one type of capital taxation: a business profits tax. The contribution is much greater when the analysis includes other types of capital taxes. A general equilibrium model extended to include taxes on dividends, property, capital stock, and excess and undistributed profits predicts patterns of output, investment, and hours worked that are more like those in the 1930s than found in earlier studies. The greatest effects come from the increased taxes on corporate dividends and undistributed profits.
Subject (JEL): H25 - Business Taxes and Subsidies including sales and value-added (VAT), E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, and E13 - General Aggregative Models: Neoclassical
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