Discretionary Services Expenditures in This Business Cycle
The pronounced weakness in personal consumption expenditures (PCE) for services has been an unusual feature of the 2007-09 recession and the slow recovery from it. Even in 2010:Q4, when real PCE increased at a relatively robust 4.1 percent annual rate, real PCE on services rose at only a 1.4 percent rate. This weakness has been especially evident in “discretionary” services (to be defined below), which fell more in the recent recession than in previous recessions and since have rebounded more sluggishly. In this post, I suggest that the continued sluggishness in these expenditures lends a ...
The Inexorable Recoveries of U.S. Unemployment
Unemployment recoveries in the US have been inexorable. Between 1949 and 2019, the annual reduction in the unemployment rate during cyclical recoveries was tightly distributed around 0.1 log points per year. The economy seems to have an irresistible force toward restoring full employment. Unless another crisis intervenes, unemployment continues to glide down to a level of approximately 3.5 percentage points. Occasionally unemployment rises rapidly during an economic crisis, while most the time, unemployment declines slowly and smoothly at a near-constant proportional rate. We show that ...
Monetary Policy, Self-Fulfilling Expectations and the U.S. Business Cycle
I estimate a medium-scale New-Keynesian model and relax the conventional assumption that the central bank adopted an active monetary policy by pursuing inflation and output stability over the entire post-war period. Even after accounting for a rich structure, I find that monetary policy was passive prior to the Volcker disinflation. Sunspot shocks did not represent quantitatively relevant sources of volatility. By contrast, such passive interest rate policy accommodated fundamental productivity and cost shocks that de-anchored inflation expectations, propagated via self-fulfilling inflation ...
Measuring International Uncertainty : The Case of Korea
We leverage a data rich environment to construct and study a measure of macroeconomic uncertainty for the Korean economy. We provide several stylized facts about uncertainty in Korea from 1991M10-2016M5. We compare and contrast this measure of uncertainty with two other popular uncertainty proxies, financial and policy uncertainty proxies, as well as the U.S. measure constructed by Jurado et. al. (2015).
Can Intangible Capital Explain Cyclical Movements in the Labor Wedge?
Intangible capital is an important factor of production in modern economies that is generally neglected in business cycle analyses. We demonstrate that intangible capital can have a substantial impact on business cycle dynamics, especially if the intangible is complementary with production capacity. We focus on customer capital: the capital embodied in the relationships a firm has with its customers. Introducing customer capital into a standard real business cycle model generates a volatile and countercyclical labor wedge, due to a mismeasured marginal product of labor. We also provide new ...
Reconciling Unemployment Claims with Job Losses in the First Months of the COVID-19 Crisis
In the spring of 2020, many observers relied heavily on weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits (UI) to estimate contemporaneous reductions in US employment induced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Though UI claims provided a timely, high-frequency window into mounting layoffs, the cumulative volume of initial claims filed through the May reference week substantially exceeded realized reductions in payroll employment and likely contributed to the historically large discrepancy between consensus expectations of further April-to-May job losses and the strong job gains reflected in ...
Why Has the US Economy Recovered So Consistently from Every Recession in the Past 70 Years?
It is a remarkable fact about the historical US business cycle that, after unemployment reached its peak in a recession, and a recovery began, the annual reduction in the unemployment rate was stable at around 0.55 percentage points per year. The economy seems to have had an irresistible force toward restoring full employment. There was high variation in monetary and fiscal policy, and in productivity and labor-force growth, but little variation in the rate of decline of unemployment. We explore models of the labor market's self-recovery that imply gradual working off of unemployment ...
Macro Risks and the Term Structure of Interest Rates
We use non-Gaussian features in U.S. macroeconomic data to identify aggregate supply and demand shocks while imposing minimal economic assumptions. Recessions in the 1970s and 1980s were driven primarily by supply shocks, later recessions were driven primarily by demand shocks, and the Great Recession exhibited large negative shocks to both demand and supply. We estimate "macro risk factors" that drive "bad" (negatively skewed) and "good" (positively skewed) variation for supply and demand shocks. The Great Moderation is mostly accounted for by a reduction in good variance. In contrast, ...
Immigrants’ employment outcomes over the business cycle
Immigrants have figured prominently in U.S. economic growth for decades, but the recent recession hit them hard. Immigrants? labor market outcomes began deteriorating even before the recession was officially under way, largely as a result of the housing bust. An analysis of employment and unemployment rates over the past fifteen years shows that immigrants? labor market outcomes are more cyclical than those of natives. The greater cyclicality of immigrants? employment and unemployment is concentrated among less-educated immigrants, but college-educated immigrants nonetheless have ...
Information in Yield Spread Trades
Using positions data on bond futures, I document that speculators' spread trades contain private information about future economic activities and asset prices. Strong steepening trades are associated with negative payroll surprises in subsequent months and can predict asset markets' reaction to future payroll releases, suggesting that speculators hold superior information about future payrolls. Steepening trades can also predict the rise of stock prices within a few hours before subsequent FOMC announcements, implying that the pre-FOMC stock drift is driven by informed speculation. Overall, ...