Creator: Backus, David and Kehoe, Patrick J. Series: Conference on economics and politics 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 procydical. 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): E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles and E31 - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
Creator: Backus, David, Kehoe, Patrick J., and Kehoe, Timothy Jerome, 1953- Series: Modeling North American economic integration Abstract:
We look for the scale effects on growth predicted by some theories of trade and growth based on dynamic returns to scale at the national or industry level. The increasing returns can arise from learning by doing, investment in human capital, research and development, or development of new products. We find some evidence of a relation between growth rates and the measures of scale implied by the learning by doing theory, especially total manufacturing. With respect to human capital, there is some evidence of a relation between growth rates and per capita measures of inputs into the human capital accumulation process, but little evidence of a relation with the scale of inputs. There is also little evidence that growth rates are related to measures of inputs into R&D. We find, however, that growth rates are related to measures of intra-industry trade, particularly when we control for scale of industry.
Keyword: External effects, Intra-industry trade, Specialization indexes, Increasing returns to scale, Learning by doing, Research and development, Human capital, and International trade Subject (JEL): F43 - Economic Growth of Open Economies and O41 - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
Creator: Krusell, Per, Quadrini, Vincenzo, and Ríos-Rull, José-Víctor Series: Lucas expectations anniversary conference Abstract:
We use political-equilibrium theory and the neoclassical growth model to compare the quantitative properties of different tax systems. We first explore whether societies which can only use consumption taxes fare better than societies which can only use income taxes. We find that if government outlays are used mainly for redistribution through transfers, then the answer is no, contradicting conventional wisdom in public finance. The reason for this is that when taxes are endogenous, and voted on by a selfish constituency, the distortionary effects of taxation are taken into account in choosing the level of taxation. Hence, political equilibria have the property that taxes which are relatively distortionary will be relatively low. These results are overturned if the government outlays are used only for the providing of public goods, implying that less distortionary taxes give better outcomes. We also investigate the properties of a tax systems in which both consumption and income taxes are used and voted on simultaneously. Since the ability to use more tax instruments allows redistribution with less distortions, the total amount of transfers tends to be higher here than in one-tax systems. Typically, tax systems tend to be self-perpetuating in the sense that changes of the tax system result in a reduction in the welfare of the median voter.
Keyword: Tax system, Tax, Consumption tax, Taxes, and Income tax Subject (JEL): E62 - Fiscal Policy, H24 - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies; includes inheritance and gift taxes, and H25 - Business Taxes and Subsidies including sales and value-added (VAT)
Creator: Perri, Fabrizio and Quadrini, Vincenzo Series: Great depressions of the twentieth century Abstract:
We analyze the Italian economy in the interwar years. In Italy, as in many other countries, the years immmediately after 1929 were characterized by a major slowdown in economic activity as non farm output declined almost 12. We argue that the slowdown cannot be explained solely by productivity shocks and that other factors must have contributed to the depth and duration of the the 1929 crisis. We present a model in which trade restrictions together with wage rigidities produce a slowdown in economic activity that is consistent with the one observed in the data. The model is also consistent with evidence from sectorial disaggregated data. Our model predicts that trade restrictions can account for about 3/4 of the observed slowdown while wage rigidity (monetary shocks) can account for the remaining fourth.
Keyword: Wage rigidity, Italy, Depressions, and Trade restrictions Subject (JEL): N14 - Economic History: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations: Europe: 1913- and E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
Creator: Fernandez, Raquel, 1959- and Rogerson, Richard Donald Series: Law and economics of federalism Abstract:
This paper examines the effect of different education financing systems on the level and distribution of resources devoted to public education. We focus on California, which in the 1970's was transformed from a system of mixed local and state financing to one of effectively pure state finance and subsequently saw its funding of public education fall between ten and fifteen percent relative to the rest of the US. We show that a simple political economy model of public finance can account for the bulk of this drop. We find that while the distribution of spending became more equal, this was mainly at the cost of a large reduction in spending in the wealthier communities with little increase for the poorer districts. Our model implies that there is no simple trade-off between equity and resources; we show that if California had moved to the opposite extreme and abolished state aid altogether, funding for public education would also have dropped by almost ten percent.
Keyword: Education finance reform, Public finance, California, State government policy, and Human capital Subject (JEL): I22 - Educational Finance; Financial Aid, H42 - Publicly Provided Private Goods, and I28 - Education: Government Policy
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