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Author:Hobijn, Bart 

Cross-country technology adoption: making the theories face the facts

We examine the diffusion of more than twenty technologies across twenty-three of the world's leading industrial economies. Our evidence covers major technology classes such as textile production, steel manufacture, communications, information technology, transportation, and electricity for the period 1788-2001. We document the common patterns observed in the diffusion of this broad range of technologies. ; Our results suggest a pattern of trickle-down diffusion that is remarkably robust across technologies. Most of the technologies that we consider originate in advanced economies and are ...
Staff Reports , Paper 169

On both sides of the quality bias in price indexes

It is often argued that price indexes do not fully capture the quality improvements of new goods in the market. Because of this shortcoming, price indexes are perceived to overestimate the actual price increases that occur. In this paper, I argue that the quality bias in price indexes is just as likely to be upward as it is to be downward. I show how both the sign and the magnitude of the quality bias in the most commonly applied price index methods are determined by the cross-sectional variation of prices per quality unit across the product models sold in the market. ; I do so by simulating ...
Staff Reports , Paper 157

Menu costs at work: restaurant prices and the introduction of the euro

Restaurant prices in the euro area saw an unprecedented increase after the introduction of the euro. We use an extension of commonly used models of sticky prices and argue that the increase in restaurant prices can be explained by menu costs. The extension we use involves the state-dependent decision of firms about when to adopt the euro. Two main mechanisms drive the result. First, our model concentrates otherwise staggered price increases around the introduction of the euro. Second, before the adoption of the euro, prices do not reflect marginal cost increases expected to occur after the ...
Staff Reports , Paper 195

Job-finding and separation rates in the OECD

In this paper, we provide a set of comparable estimates of aggregate monthly job-finding and separation rates for twenty-seven OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries; these estimates can be used for the cross-country calibration of search models of unemployment. We find that cross-country differences in job-finding rates are much greater than those in separation rates. Our results are quantitatively and qualitatively in line with those published in previous studies; however, they cover a much larger set of countries. We combine our estimates with evidence on ...
Staff Reports , Paper 298

Is equipment price deflation a statistical artifact?

I argue that equipment price deflation might be overstated because the methods used to measure it rely on the erroneous assumption of perfectly competitive markets. The main intuition behind this argument is that what these price indices might actually capture not a price decrease but the erosion of the market power of existing vintages of machines. To illustrate my argument, I introduce an endogenous growth model in which heterogeneous final goods producers can choose the technology they will use. The various technologies are supplied by monopolistically competing machine suppliers. This ...
Staff Reports , Paper 139

Firms and flexibility

We study the effects of labor market rigidities and frictions on firm-size distributions and dynamics. We introduce a model of endogenous entrepreneurship, labor market frictions, and firm-size dynamics with many types of rigidities, such as hiring and firing costs, search frictions with vacancy costs, unemployment benefits, firm entry costs, and a tax wedge between wages and labor costs. We use the model to analyze how each rigidity explains firm-size differentials between the United States and France. We find that when we include all rigidities and frictions except hiring costs and search ...
Staff Reports , Paper 311

Technology diffusion within central banking: the case of real-time gross settlement

We examine the diffusion of real-time gross settlement (RTGS) technology across all 174 central banks. RTGS reduces settlement risk and facilitates financial innovation in the settlement of foreign exchange trades. In 1985, only three central banks had implemented RTGS systems, and by year-end 2005, that number had increased to ninety. We find that the RTGS diffusion process is consistent with the standard S-curve prediction. Real GDP per capita, the relative price of capital, and trade patterns explain a significant part of the cross-country variation in RTGS adoption. These determinants are ...
Staff Reports , Paper 260

Inflation inequality in the United States

Inflation is often assumed to affect all people in the same way. In practice, differences in spending patterns across households and differences in price increases across goods and services lead to unequal levels of inflation for different households. In this paper, we measure the degree of inequality in inflation across U.S. households for the period 1987-2001. ; Our results suggest that the inflation experiences of U.S. households vary significantly. Most of the differences can be traced to changes in the relative prices of education, health care, and gasoline. We find that cost of living ...
Staff Reports , Paper 173

CONDI: a cost-of-nominal-distortions index

We construct a price index with weights for the prices of different PCE (personal consumption expenditures) goods chosen to minimize the welfare costs of nominal distortions. In this cost-of-nominal-distortions index (CONDI), the weights are computed in a multi-sector New Keynesian model with time-dependent price setting. The model is calibrated using U.S. data on the dispersion of price stickiness and labor shares across sectors. We find that the CONDI weights depend mostly on price stickiness and are less affected by the dispersion in labor shares. Moreover, CONDI stabilization closely ...
Staff Reports , Paper 367

Working Paper
Technology diffusion and postwar growth

In the aftermath of WorldWar II, the world's economies exhibited very different rates of economic recovery. We provide evidence that those countries that caught up the most with the U.S. in the postwar period are those that also saw an acceleration in the speed of adoption of new technologies. This acceleration is correlated with the incidence of U.S. economic aid and technical assistance in the same period. We interpret this as supportive of the interpretation that technology transfers from the U.S. to Western European countries and Japan were an important factor in driving growth in these ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2010-16



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