Creator: Jaimovich, Nir and Siu, Henry E. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 387 Abstract:
We investigate the consequences of demographic change for business cycle analysis. We find that changes in the age composition of the labor force account for a significant fraction of the variation in business cycle volatility observed in the U.S. and other G7 economies. During the postwar period, these countries experienced dramatic demographic change, although details regarding extent and timing differ from place to place. Using panel-data methods, we exploit this variation to show that the age composition of the workforce has a large and statistically significant effect on cyclical volatility. We conclude by relating these findings to the recent decline in U.S. business cycle volatility. Using both simple accounting exercises and a quantitative general equilibrium model, we find that demographic change accounts for a significant part of this moderation.
Subject (JEL): J11 - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts and E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
Creator: Geweke, John Series: New methods in business cycle research Abstract:
A simple stochastic model of the firm is constructed in which a dynamic monopolist who maximizes a discounted profits stream subject to labor adjustment costs and given factor prices sets output price as a distributed lag of past wages and input prices. If the observed relation of wages and prices in manufacturing arises solely from this behavior then wages and input prices are exogenous with respect to output prices. In tests using quarterly and monthly series for the straight time wage, an index of raw materials prices and the wholesale price index for manufacturing and its durable and nondurable subsectors this hypothesis cannot be refuted for the period 1955:1 to 1971:11. During the period 1926:1 to 1940:11, however, symmetrically opposite behavior is observed manufacturing wholesale prices are exogenous with respect to the wage rate, a relation which can arise if dynamically monopsonistic firms compete in product markets. Neither structural relation has withstood direct wage and price controls.
Keyword: Wholesale, Labor, Wages, Prices, and Manufacturing Subject (JEL): E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, E31 - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation, and L60 - Industry Studies: Manufacturing: General
Creator: Bocola, Luigi Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 722 Abstract:
This paper examines the macroeconomic implications of sovereign credit risk in a business cycle model where banks are exposed to domestic government debt. The news of a future sovereign default hampers financial intermediation. First, it tightens the funding constraints of banks, reducing their available resources to finance firms (liquidity channel). Second, it generates a precautionary motive for banks to deleverage (risk channel). I estimate the model using Italian data, finding that i) sovereign credit risk was recessionary and that ii) the risk channel was sizable. I then use the model to evaluate the effects of subsidized long term loans to banks, calibrated to the ECB’s longer-term refinancing operations. The presence of strong precautionary motives at the time of policy enactment implies that bank lending to firms is not very sensitive to these credit market interventions.
Keyword: Credit policies, Financial constraints, and Sovereign debt crises Subject (JEL): E44 - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy, G21 - Banks; Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages, E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, and G01 - Financial Crises
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: McGrattan, Ellen R. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 545 Abstract:
Because ﬁrms invest heavily in R&D, software, brands, and other intangible assets—at a rate close to that of tangible assets—changes in measured GDP, which does not include all intangible investments, understate the actual changes in total output. If changes in the labor input are more precisely measured, then it is possible to observe little change in measured total factor productivity (TFP) coincidentally with large changes in hours and investment. This mismeasurement leaves business cycle modelers with large and unexplained labor wedges accounting for most of the ﬂuctuations in aggregate data. To address this issue, I incorporate intangible investments into a multi-sector general equilibrium model and parameterize income and cost shares using data from an updated U.S. input and output table, with intangible investments reassigned from intermediate to ﬁnal uses. I employ maximum likelihood methods and quarterly observations on sectoral gross outputs for the United States over the period 1985–2014 to estimate processes for latent sectoral TFPs—that have common and sector-speciﬁc components. Aggregate hours are not used to estimate TFPs, but the model predicts changes in hours that compare well with the actual hours series and account for roughly two-thirds of its standard deviation. I ﬁnd that sector-speciﬁc shocks and industry linkages play an important role in accounting for ﬂuctuations and comovements in aggregate and industry-level U.S. data, and I ﬁnd that the model’s common component of TFP is not correlated at business cycle frequencies with the standard measures of aggregate TFP used in the macroeconomic literature.
Keyword: Intangible investments, Input-output linkages, Total factor productivity, and Business cycles Subject (JEL): E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, D57 - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium: Input-Output Tables and Analysis, and O41 - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
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: 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: Khan, Aubhik and Thomas, Julia Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 329 Abstract:
We develop an equilibrium business cycle model where producers of final goods pursue generalized (S,s) inventory policies with respect to intermediate goods due to nonconvex factor adjustment costs. When calibrated to reproduce the average inventory-to-sales ratio in postwar U.S. data, our model explains over half of the cyclical variability of inventory investment. Moreover, inventory accumulation is strongly procyclical, and production is more volatile than sales, as in the data.
The comovement between inventory investment and final sales is often interpreted as evidence that inventories amplify aggregate fluctuations. In contrast, our model economy exhibits a business cycle similar to that of a comparable benchmark without inventories, though we do observe somewhat higher variability in employment, and lower variability in consumption and investment. Thus, our equilibrium analysis reveals that the presence of inventories does not substantially raise the cyclical variability of production, because it dampens movements in final sales.
Keyword: (S,s) inventories and Business cycles Subject (JEL): E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles and E22 - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
Creator: Khan, Aubhik and Thomas, Julia Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 306 Abstract:
Recent empirical analysis has found nonlinearities to be important in understanding aggregated investment. Using an equilibrium business cycle model, we search for aggregate nonlinearities arising from the introduction of nonconvex capital adjustment costs. We find that, while such costs lead to nontrivial nonlinearities in aggregate investment demand, equilibrium investment is effectively unchanged. Our finding, based on a model in which aggregate fluctuations arise through exogenous changes in total factor productivity, is robust to the introduction of shocks to the relative price of investment goods.
Keyword: Adjustment costs, Lumpy investment, Nonlinearities, and Business cycles Subject (JEL): E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles and E22 - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity