Changes in hours worked, 1950?2000
This article describes changes in the number of average weekly hours of market work per person in the United States since World War II. Overall, this number has been roughly constant; for various groups, however, it has shifted dramatically - from males to females, from older people to younger people, and from single- to married-person households. The article provides a detailed look at how the lifetime pattern of work hours has changed since 1950 for different demographic groups. This article also documents several factors that lead to the reallocation of hours worked across groups: ...
A critique of structural VARs using real business cycle theory
The main substantive finding of the recent structural vector autoregression literature with a differenced specification of hours (DSVAR) is that technology shocks lead to a fall in hours. Researchers have used these results to argue that business cycle models in which technology shocks lead to a rise in hours should be discarded. We evaluate the DSVAR approach by asking, is the specification derived from this approach misspecified when the data are generated by the very model the literature is trying to discard? We find that it is misspecified. Moreover, this misspecification is so great that ...
Comment on Mendoza and Tesar's \\"Why hasn't tax competition triggered a race to the bottom? Some quantitative lessons from the EU\\"
With a monetary union in place, many European countries are now debating if and how to coordinate their tax policies. Of particular interest to EU ministers is taxation of mobile factors like capital. Mendoza and Tesar (MT) use a game-theoretic approach to address the question, What is the outcome of tax competition and tax coordination when countries choose the tax on capital income and adjust other tax rates to keep revenues constant? MT predict very large welfare gains (losses) to tax competition for European countries that had high (low) tax rates prior to financial integration. In ...
New Keynesian models: not yet useful for policy analysis
In the 1970s macroeconomists often disagreed bitterly. Macroeconomists have now largely converged on method, model design, and macroeconomic policy advice. The disagreements that remain all stem from the practical implementation of the methodology. Some macroeconomists think that New Keynesian models are on the verge of being useful for quarter-to-quarter quantitative policy advice. We do not. We argue that the shocks in these models are dubiously structural and show that many of the features of the model as well as the implications due to these features are inconsistent with microeconomic ...
Sticky price models of the business cycle: can the contract multiplier solve the persistence problem?
We construct a quantitative equilibrium model with price setting and use it to ask whether with staggered price setting monetary shocks can generate business cycle fluctuations. These fluctuations include persistent output fluctuations along with the other defining features of business cycles, like volatile investment and smooth consumption. We assume that prices are exogenously sticky for a short period of time. Persistent output fluctuations require endogenous price stickiness in the sense that firms choose not to change prices very much when they can do so. We find that for a wide range of ...
Productivity and the post-1990 U.S. economy
In this paper, the authors show that ignoring corporate intangible investments gives a distorted picture of the post-1990 U.S. economy. In particular, ignoring intangible investments in the late 1990s leads one to conclude that productivity growth was modest, corporate profits were low, and corporate investment was at moderate levels. In fact, the late 1990s was a boom period for productivity growth, corporate profits, and corporate investment.
Taxes, regulations, and asset prices
U.S. stock prices have increased much faster than gross domestic product GDP) in the postwar period. Between 1962 and 2000, corporate equity value relative to GDP nearly doubled. In this paper, we determine what standard growth theory says the equity value should be in 1962 and 2000, the two years for which our steady-state assumption is a reasonable one. We find that the actual valuations were close to the theoretical predictions in both years. The reason for the large run-up in equity value relative to GDP is that the average tax rate on dividends fell dramatically between 1962 and 2000. We ...
Explaining cross-country income differences
This chapter reviews the literature that tries to explain the disparity and variation of GDP per worker and GDP per capita across countries and across time. There are many potential explanations for the different patterns of development across countries, including differences in luck, raw materials, geography, preferences, and economic policies. We focus on differences in economic policies and ask to what extent can differences in policies across countries account for the observed variability in income levels and their growth rates. We review estimates for a wide range of policy variables. In ...
The labor productivity puzzle
Prior to the mid-1980s, labor productivity growth was a useful barometer of the U.S. economy?s performance: it was low during economic recessions and high during expansions. Since then, labor productivity has become significantly less procyclical. In the recent recession 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 ...