Creator: Kehoe, Patrick J. and Midrigan, Virgiliu Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 413 Abstract:
Recent studies say prices change about every four months. Economists have interpreted this high frequency as evidence against the importance of sticky prices for the real effects of monetary policy. Theory implies that this interpretation is correct if most price changes are regular, but not if most are temporary, as in the data. Temporary changes have a striking feature: after such a change, the nominal price tends to return exactly to its preexisting level. We study versions of Calvo and menu cost models that replicate this feature. Both models predict that the degree of aggregate price stickiness is determined mostly by the frequency of regular price changes, not by the combined frequency of temporary and regular price changes. Since regular prices are sticky in the data, the models predict a substantial degree of aggregate price stickiness even though micro prices change frequently. In particular, the aggregate price level in our models is as sticky as in standard models in which micro prices change about once a year. In this sense, prices are sticky after all.
Keyword: Menu costs, Sticky prices, and Sales Subject (JEL): E24 - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity, E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, and E30 - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles: General (includes Measurement and Data)
Creator: Arellano, Cristina, Bai, Yan, and Kehoe, Patrick J. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 466 Abstract:
The U.S. Great Recession featured a large decline in output and labor, tighter financial conditions, and a large increase in firm growth dispersion. We build a model in which increased volatility at the firm level generates a downturn and worsened credit conditions. The key idea is that hiring inputs is risky because financial frictions limit firms' ability to insure against shocks. An increase in volatility induces firms to reduce their inputs to reduce such risk. Out model can generate most of the decline in output and labor in the Great Recession and the observed increase in firms' interest rate spreads.
Keyword: Credit crunch, Credit constraints, Uncertainty shocks, Firm heterogeneity, Firm credit spreads, Labor wedge, and Great Recession Subject (JEL): E44 - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy, E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, E23 - Macroeconomics: Production, E24 - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity, D53 - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium: Financial Markets, and D52 - Incomplete Markets
Creator: Atkeson, Andrew, Eisfeldt, Andrea L., and Weill, Pierre-Olivier Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 484 Abstract:
Building on the Merton (1974) and Leland (1994) structural models of credit risk, we develop a simple, transparent, and robust method for measuring the financial soundness of individual firms using data on their equity volatility. We use this method to retrace quantitatively the history of firms’ financial soundness during U.S. business cycles over most of the last century. We highlight three main findings. First, the three worst recessions between 1926 and 2012 coincided with insolvency crises, but other recessions did not. Second, fluctuations in asset volatility appear to drive variation in firms’ financial soundness. Finally, the financial soundness of financial firms largely resembles that of nonfinancial firms.
Keyword: Distance to Default, Volatility, Financial Frictions and Business Cycles, and Credit Risk Modeling Subject (JEL): E44 - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy, E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, G32 - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill, and G01 - Financial Crises
Creator: Chodorow-Reich, Gabriel and Karabarbounis, Loukas Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 514 Abstract:
The flow opportunity cost of moving from unemployment to employment consists of foregone public benefits and the foregone value of non-working time in units of consumption. We construct a time series of the opportunity cost of employment using detailed microdata and administrative or national accounts data to estimate benefit levels, eligibility and take-up of benefits, consumption by labor force status, hours per worker, taxes, and preference parameters. Our estimated opportunity cost is procyclical and volatile over the business cycle. The estimated cyclicality implies far less unemployment volatility in many leading models of the labor market than that observed in the data, irrespective of the level of the opportunity cost.
Keyword: Opportunity cost of employment and Unemployment fluctuations Subject (JEL): E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, E24 - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity, and J64 - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
Creator: Kehoe, Patrick J., Midrigan, Virgiliu, and Pastorino, Elena Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 536 Abstract:
During the Great Recession, regions of the United States that experienced the largest declines in household debt also experienced the largest drops in consumption, employment, and wages. Employment declines were larger in the nontradable sector and for firms that were facing the worst credit conditions. Motivated by these findings, we develop a search and matching model with credit frictions that affect both consumers and firms. In the model, tighter debt constraints raise the cost of investing in new job vacancies and thus reduce worker job finding rates and employment. Two key features of our model, on-the-job human capital accumulation and consumer-side credit frictions, are critical to generating sizable drops in employment. On-the-job human capital accumulation makes the flows of benefits from posting vacancies long-lived and so greatly amplifies the sensitivity of such investments to credit frictions. Consumer-side credit frictions further magnify these effects by leading wages to fall only modestly. We show that the model reproduces well the salient cross-regional features of the U.S. data during the Great Recession.
Keyword: Search and matching, Human capital, Employment, and Debt constraints Subject (JEL): E21 - Macroeconomics: Consumption; Saving; Wealth, E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, E24 - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity, J21 - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure, and J64 - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
Creator: Thomas, Julia Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 302 Abstract:
Previous research has suggested that discrete and occasional plant-level capital adjustments have significant aggregate implications. In particular, it has been argued that changes in plants’ willingness to invest in response to aggregate shocks can at times generate large movements in total investment demand. In this study, I re-assess these predictions in a general equilibrium environment. Specifically, assuming nonconvex costs of capital adjustment, I derive generalized (S,s) adjustment rules yielding lumpy plant-level investment within an otherwise standard equilibrium business cycle model. In contrast to previous partial equilibrium analyses, model results reveal that the aggregate effects of lumpy investment are negligible. In general equilibrium, households’ preference for relatively smooth consumption profiles offsets changes in aggregate investment demand implied by the introduction of lumpy plant-level investment. As a result, adjustments in wages and interest rates yield quantity dynamics that are virtually indistinguishable from the standard model.
Keyword: Business Cycles, Lumpy Investment, and (S,s) Adjustment Subject (JEL): E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles and E22 - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
Creator: Luttmer, Erzo G. J. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 585 Abstract:
Most firms begin very small, and large firms are the result of typically decades of persistent growth. This growth can be understood as the result of some form of organization capital accumulation. In the US, the distribution of firm size k has a right tail only slightly thinner than 1/k. This is shown to imply that incumbent firms account for most aggregate organization capital accumulation. And it implies potentially extremely slow aggregate convergence rates. A benchmark model is proposed in which managers can use incumbent organization capital to create new organization capital. Workers are a specific factor for producing consumption, and they require managerial supervision. Through the lens of the model, the aftermath of the Great Recession of 2008 is unsurprising if the events of late 2008 and early 2009 are interpreted as a destruction of organization capital, or as a belief shock that made consumers want to reduce consumption and accumulate more wealth instead.
Keyword: Zipf's law, Business cycles, Firm size distribution, and Slow recoveries Subject (JEL): L11 - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms and E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
Creator: Boldrin, Michele, Christiano, Lawrence J., and Fisher, Jonas D. M. (Jonas Daniel Maurice), 1965- Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 280 Abstract:
We introduce two modifications into the standard real business cycle model: habit persistence preferences and limitations on intersectoral factor mobility. The resulting model is consistent with the observed mean equity premium, mean risk free rate and Sharpe ratio on equity. The model does roughly as well as the standard real business cycle model with respect to standard measures. On four other dimensions its business cycle implications represent a substantial improvement. It accounts for (i) persistence in output, (ii) the observation that employment across different sectors moves together over the business cycle, (iii) the evidence of ‘excess sensitivity’ of consumption growth to output growth, and (iv) the ‘inverted leading indicator property of interest rates,’ that high interest rates are negatively correlated with future output.
Keyword: Capital gains, Risk aversion, Asset pricing , and Habit persistence Subject (JEL): E44 - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy, E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, and O41 - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
Creator: Backus, David and Kehoe, Patrick J. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 145 Abstract:
We document properties of business cycles in ten countries over the last hundred years, contrasting the behavior of real quantities with that of the price level and the stock of money. Although the magnitude of output fluctuations has varied across countries and periods, relations among variables have been remarkably uniform. Consumption has generally been about as variable as output, and investment substantially more variable, and both have been strongly procyclical. The trade balance has generally been countercyclical. The exception to this regularity is government purchases, which exhibit no systematic cyclical tendency. With respect to the size of output fluctuations, standard deviations are largest between the two world wars. In some countries (notably Australia and Canada) they are substantially larger prior to World War I than after World War II, but in others (notably Japan and the United Kingdom) there is little difference between these periods. Properties of price levels, in contrast, exhibit striking differences between periods. Inflation rates are more persistent after World War II than before, and price level fluctuations are typically procyclical before World War II, countercyclical afterward. We find no general tendency toward increased persistence in money growth rates, but find that fluctuations in money are less highly correlated with output in the postwar period.
Subject (JEL): E31 - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation and E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
Creator: Braun, R. Anton and Evans, Charles, 1958- Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 168 Abstract:
We consider a dynamic, stochastic equilibrium business cycle model which is augmented to reflect seasonal shifts in preferences, technology, and government purchases. Our estimated parameterization implies implausibly large seasonal variation in the state of technology: rising at an annual rate of 24% in the fourth quarter and falling at an annual rate of 28% in the first quarter. Furthermore, our findings indicate that variation in the state of technology of this magnitude is required if the model is to explain the main features of the seasonal cycle.
Keyword: Solow residuals, Real business cycle, and Seasonality Subject (JEL): E20 - Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy: General (includes Measurement and Data) and E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles