Trade, Relative Prices, and the Canadian Great Depression
Canadian GNP per capita fell by roughly a third between 1928 and 1933. Although the decline and the slow recovery of GNP resemble the American Great Depression, trade was more important in Canada, as exports and imports each accounted for roughly a quarter of Canadian GNP in 1928. The fall in the trade share of GNP of roughly 30 percent between 1928 and 1933 was accompanied by a decline of over 20 percent in the relative prices of exports and imports relative to nontraded goods. We develop a three-sector small open economy model, where wages in the nontraded and import competing sectors ...
A New Perspective on the Finance-Development Nexus
The existing literature on financial development focuses mostly on the causal impact of the quantity of financial intermediation on economic development. This paper, instead, focuses on the role of the financial sector in creating securities that cater to the needs of heterogeneous investors. To that end, we describe a dynamic extension of Allen and Gale (1989)?s optimal security design model in which producers can tranche the stochastic cash flows they generate at a cost. Lower tranching costs in that environment lead to capital deepening and raise aggregate output. The implications of lower ...
Is U.S. federal debt too large?
U.S. federal debt has grown to levels that have not been seen since the aftermath of the Second World War. Many economists argue there is plenty to be worried about when it comes to what this implies for the U.S. economy. This Economic Commentary explains that recent increases in debt are typical of the growth seen historically in times of crisis, but entitlement growth is a different story. Unchecked, it will impair our ability to respond to crises and economic downturns in the future.
The cyclical behavior of equilibrium unemployment and vacancies across OECD countries
We show that the inability of a standardly-calibrated stochastic labor search-and-matching model to account for the observed volatility of unemployment and vacancies extends beyond U.S. data to a set of OECD countries. We also argue that using cross-country data is helpful in evaluating the relative merits of the alternatives that have appeared in the literature. In illustrating this point, we take the solution proposed in Hagedorn and Manovskii (2008) and show that its ability to match the labor market volatility magnitudes seen in the data depends crucially on how persistent the estimated ...
The implications of capital-skill complementarity in economies with large informal sectors
In most developing nations, formal workers tend to be more experienced, more educated, and earn more than informal workers. These facts are often interpreted as evidence that low-skill workers face barriers to entry into the formal sector. Yet, there exists little direct evidence that such barriers are important. This paper describes a model where significant differences arise between formal and informal workers even though labor markets are perfectly competitive. In equilibrium, the informal sector emphasizes low-skill work because informal managers have access to less outside financing, and ...
Re-Examining the Role of Sticky Wages in the U.S. Great Contraction: A Multisectoral Approach
We quantify the role of contractionary monetary shocks and nominal wage rigidities in the U.S. Great Contraction. In contrast to conventional wisdom, we find that the average economy-wide real wage varied little over 1929?33, although real wages rose significantly in some industries. Using a two-sector model with intermediates and nominal wage rigidities in one sector, we find that contractionary monetary shocks can account for only a quarter of the fall in GDP, and as little as a fifth at the trough. Intermediate linkages play a key role, as the output decline in our benchmark is roughly ...
Monetary policy tightening and long-term interest rates
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) has maintained an accommodative monetary policy ever since the 2007 recession, and some financial market participants are concerned that long-term interest rates may increase more than should be expected when the Committee starts to tighten. But a look at five historical episodes of monetary policy tightening suggests that such an outcome is more likely when markets are surprised by policy actions or economic developments. Given the Fed?s new policy tools, especially its evolution toward more transparent communications, the odds of a surprise are far ...
Reassessing the Effects of Extending Unemployment Insurance Benefits
To deal with the high level of unemployment during the Great Recession, lawmakers extended the availability of unemployment benefits?all the way to 99 weeks in the states where unemployment was highest. A recent study has found that the extensions served to increase unemployment significantly by putting upward pressure on wages, leading to less jobs creation by firms. We replicate the methodology of this study with an updated and longer sample and find a much smaller impact. We estimate that the impact of extending benefits on unemployment through wages and job creation can, at its highest, ...
Technology shocks and unemployment in the last recession
In the latest recession, unemployment rates in the United States increased at a faster pace than in the average OECD country. Since the unemployment rate has been more sensitive to technological shocks in the United States in the past than in other OECD countries, I investigated whether increased sensitivity to such shocks was the reason for the recent relative increase in the U.S. unemployment rate. I find this was not the case.
We present a model in which the importance of financial intermediation for development can be measured. We generate financial differences by varying the degree to which contracts can be enforced. Economies where enforcement is poor employ less capital and less efficient technologies. Yet, accounting for all the observed dispersion output requires a higher capital share or a lower elasticity of substitution between capital and labor than usually assumed. We find that the effects of changes in those technological parameters on output are markedly larger when financial frictions are present. ...