Computers, obsolescence, and productivity
This paper examines the role that computers have played in boosting U.S. economic growth in recent years. The paper focuses on two effects--the effect of increased productivity in the computer-producing sector and the effect of investments in computing equipment on the productivity of those who use them--and concludes that together they account for almost all of the recent acceleration in U.S. labor productivity. In calculating the computer-usage effect, standard NIPA measures of the capital stock are inappropriate for growth accounting because they do not account for technological ...
Unemployment and the durational structure of exit rates
This paper presents a simple model of wage bargaining and employment flows designed to address the effects of policies to increase the rate of exit to employment of the long-term unemployed. Exit rates from long- and short-term unemployment have two effects on the unemployment rate: a positive one as high exit rates strengthen current employees' bargaining positions and thus wages and a negative one as faster outflows from unemployment reduce the stock of unemployed. Thus, there is a trade-off between the exit rate from long-term unemployment and the exit rate from short-term unemployment. ...
Inflation targets, credibility, and persistence in a simple sticky-price framework
This paper presents a re-formulated version of a canonical sticky-price model that has been extended to account for variations over time in the central bank's inflation target. We derive a closed-form solution for the model, and analyze its properties under various parameter values. The model is used to explore topics relating to the effects of disinflationary monetary policies and inflation persistence. In particular, we employ the model to illustrate and assess the critique that standard sticky-price models generate counterfactual predictions for the effects of monetary policy.
A guide to the use of chain aggregated NIPA data
In 1996, the U.S. Department of Commerce began using a new method to construct all aggregate ``real'' series in the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA). This method employs the so-called ``ideal chain index'' pioneered by Irving Fisher. The new methodology has some extremely important implications that are unfamiliar to many practicing empirical economists; as a result, mistaken calculations with NIPA data have become very common. This paper explains the motivation for the switch to chain aggregation and then illustrates the usage of chain-aggregated data with three topical examples, ...
Does the labor share of income drive inflation?
Woodford (2001) has presented evidence that the new-Keynesian Phillips curve fits the empirical behavior of inflation well when the labor income share is used as a driving variable, but fits poorly when deterministically detrended output is used. He concludes that the output gap--the deviation between actual and potential output--is better captured by the labor income share, in turn implying that central banks should raise interest rates in response to increases in the labor share. We show that the empirical evidence generally suggests that the labor share version of the new-Keynesian ...
Wage curve vs. Phillips curve: are there macroeconomic implications?
The standard derivation of the accelerationist Phillips curve relates expected real wage inflation to the unemployment rate and invokes a constant price markup and adaptive expectations to generate the accelerationist price inflation formula. Blanchflower and Oswald (1994) argue that microeconomic evidence of a low autoregression coefficient in real wage regressions invalidates the macroeconomic Phillips curve. This conclusion has been disputed by a number of authors on the grounds that the true autoregression coefficient is close to 1. This paper shows that given the assumption of a constant ...
Can rational expectations sticky-price models explain inflation dynamics?
The canonical inflation specification in sticky-price rational expectations models (the new-Keynesian Phillips curve) is often criticized on the grounds that it fails to account for the dependence of inflation on its own lags. In response, many recent studies have employed a "hybrid" sticky-price specification in which inflation depends on a weighted average of lagged and expected future values of itself, in addition to a driving variable such as the output gap. In this paper, we consider some simple tests of the hybrid model that are derived from the model's closed-form solution. Our ...
New tests of the New-Keynesian Phillips curve
Is the observed correlation between current and lagged inflation a function of backward-looking inflation expectations, or do the lags in inflation regressions merely proxy for rational forward-looking expectations, as in the new-Keynesian Phillips curve? Recent research has attempted to answer this question by using instrumental variables techniques to estimate "hybrid" specifications for inflation that allow for effects of lagged and future inflation. We show that these tests of forward-looking behavior have very low power against alternative, but non-nested, backward-looking ...
Tax incentives, material inputs, and the supply curve for capital equipment
The slope of the supply curve for capital equipment has important implications for the macroeconomics of investment and the effects of tax reform on capital accumulation. Goolsbee (1998) has used changes in investment tax incentives to identify whether this supply curve is significantly upward-sloping and has concluded that it is. This paper shows that investment tax incentives are a poor instrument for identifying this supply curve because they are spuriously correlated with supply shocks for equipment producers. Once input costs for equipment producers are controlled for, there is no ...
A note on the cointegration of consumption, income, and wealth
Lettau and Ludvigson (2001) argue that a log-linearized approximation to an aggregate budget constraint predicts that log consumption, assets, and labor income will be cointegrated. They conclude that this cointegrating relationship is present in U.S. data, and that the estimated cointegrating residual forecasts future asset growth. This note examines whether the cointegrating relationship suggested by Lettau and Ludvigson's theoretical framework actually exists. We demonstrate that we cannot reject the hypothesis that cointegration is absent from the data once we employ measures of ...