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Author:Bils, Mark 

Conference Paper
Indexation and contract length in unionized U.S. manufacturing
AUTHORS: Bils, Mark
DATE: 1989

Working Paper
Reset price inflation and the impact of monetary policy shocks
A standard state-dependent pricing model implies very limited scope for using active monetary policy to stabilize real activity. Two modeling strategies which expand the role of monetary policy are time-dependent pricing and strategic complementarities between price-setting firms. These mechanisms have telltale implications for the persistence and volatility of "reset price inflation." Reset price inflation is the rate of change of all desired prices (including for goods that have not changed price in the current period). Using the micro data underpinning the CPI, we construct an empirical measure of reset price inflation and use this measure to assess the validity of the modeling approaches. We find that time-dependent models imply unrealistically high persistence and stability of reset price inflation. This discrepancy is exacerbated by adding strategic complementarities, even under state-dependent pricing. A state-dependent model with no strategic complementarities aligns most closely with the CPI data.
AUTHORS: Klenow, Peter J.; Bils, Mark; Malin, Benjamin A.
DATE: 2009

Discussion Paper
Cyclical factor utilization
We introduce procyclical labor and capital utilization, as well as costs of rapidly increasing employment, into a business-cycle model. Plausible variations in factor utilization enable us to explain observed variability of real GNP with considerably smaller economy-wide disturbances. The costs of adjustment create very interesting and realistic lead and lag relationships: Employment does not peak until a full quarter after output; workweeks, effort, capital utilization, and productivity all sharply lead the business cycle.
AUTHORS: Bils, Mark; Cho, Jang-Ok
DATE: 1993

Journal Article
Sticky prices and monetary policy shocks
Models with sticky prices predict that monetary policy changes will affect relative prices and relative quantities in the short run because some prices are more flexible than others. In U.S. micro data, the degree of price stickiness differs dramatically across consumption categories. This study exploits that diversity to ask whether popular measures of monetary shocks (for example, innovations in the federal funds rate) have the predicted effects. The study finds that they do not. Short-run responses of relative prices have the wrong sign. And monetary policy shocks seem to have persistent effects on both relative prices and relative quantities, rather than the transitory effects one would expect from differences in price flexibility across goods. The findings reject the joint hypothesis that the sticky-price models typically employed in policy analysis capture the U.S. economy and that commonly used monetary policy shocks represent exogenous shifts.
AUTHORS: Bils, Mark; Klenow, Peter J.; Kryvtsov, Oleksiy
DATE: 2003-01

Appendix: Resurrecting the Role of the Product Market Wedge in Recessions
AUTHORS: Bils, Mark; Klenow, Peter J.
DATE: 2015-10-09

Resurrecting the Role of the Product Market Wedge in Recessions
Employment and hours appear far more cyclical than dictated by the behavior of productivity and consumption. This puzzle has been called ?the labor wedge? ? a cyclical intratemporal wedge between the marginal product of labor and the marginal rate of substitution of consumption for leisure. The intratemporal wedge can be broken into a product market wedge (price markup) and a labor market wedge (wage markup). Based on the wages of employees, the literature has attributed the intratemporal wedge almost entirely to labor market distortions. Because employee wages may be smoothed versions of the true cyclical price of labor, we instead examine the self-employed and intermediate inputs, respectively. Looking at the past quarter century in the United States, we find that price markup movements are at least as important as wage markup movements ? including during the Great Recession and its aftermath. Thus, sticky prices and other forms of countercyclical markups deserve a central place in business cycle research, alongside sticky wages and matching frictions.
AUTHORS: Malin, Benjamin A.; Klenow, Peter J.; Bils, Mark
DATE: 2015-10-09

What inventory behavior tells us about business cycles
We argue that the behavior of manufacturing inventories provides evidence against models of business cycle fluctuations based on productivity shocks, increasing returns to scale, or favorable externalities, whereas it is consistent with models with short-run diminishing returns. Finished goods inventories move proportionally much less than sales or production over the business cycle, which we show implies procyclical marginal cost and countercyclical price markups. Obvious measures for marginal cost do not show high marginal cost near peaks, as required to rationalize the inventory behavior, because measured factor productivity rises during the peak phase of the cycle. We can better explain the cyclical behavior of inventory holdings by allowing for procyclical factor utilization, the cost of which is internalized by firms but is not contemporaneously reflected in measured wage rates.
AUTHORS: Kahn, James A.; Bils, Mark
DATE: 1998

What inventory behavior tells us about business cycles
Manufacturers' finished goods inventories are less cyclical than shipments. This requires marginal cost to be more procyclical than is conventionally measured. In this paper, alternative marginal cost measures for six manufacturing industries are constructed. These measures, which attribute high-frequency productivity shocks to procyclical work effort, are more successful in accounting for inventory behavior. Evidence is also provided that the short-run slope of marginal cost arising from convexity of the production function is close to zero for five of the six industries. The paper concludes that countercyclical markups arising from a procyclical shadow price of labor are chiefly responsible for the sluggishness of inventories.
AUTHORS: Bils, Mark; Kahn, James A.
DATE: 1999-11-01


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