State of the union
Tax smoothing with redistribution
We study optimal labor and capital taxation in a dynamic economy subject to government expenditure and aggregate productivity shocks. We relax two assumptions from Ramsey models: that a representative agent exists and that taxation is proportional with no lump-sum tax. In contrast, we capture a redistributive motive for distortive taxation by allowing privately observed differences in relative skills across workers. We consider two scenarios for tax instruments: (i) taxation is linear with arbitrary intercept and slope; and (ii) taxation is non-linear and unrestricted as in Mirrleesian ...
Labor contracts in a model of imperfect competition
We propose a definition of involuntary unemployment which differs from that traditionally used in implicit labor contract theory. We say that a worker is involuntarily unemployed if the marginal wage implied by the optimal contract exceeds the marginal rate of substitution between leisure and consumption. We construct a model where risk-neutral firms have monopoly power and show that such monopoly power is necessary for involuntary unemployment to arise in the optimal contract. We numerically compute examples and show that such unemployment occurs for a wide range of parameter values.
Many unions in the United States have for several years engaged in what is known as pattern bargaining?a union determines a sequence for negotiations with firms within an industry where the agreement with the first firm becomes the take-it-or-leave-it offer by the union for all subsequent negotiations. In this paper, we show that pattern bargaining is preferred by a union to both simultaneous industrywide negotiations and sequential negotiations without a pattern. In recent years, unions have increasingly moved away from patterns that equalized wage rates across firms when these patterns did ...
Fixed term employment contracts in an equilibrium search model
Fixed term employment contracts have been introduced in number of European countries as a way to provide flexibility to economies with high employment protection levels. We introduce these contracts into the equilibrium search model in Alvarez and Veracierto (1999), a version of the Lucas and Prescott island model, adapted to have undirected search and variable labor force participation. We model a contract of length J as a tax on separations of workers with tenure higher than J. We show a version of the welfare theorems, and characterize the efficient allocations. This requires solving a ...
Union COLA's on the decline
When should labor contracts be nominal?
We propose a theory to explain the choice between nominal and indexed labor contracts. We find that contracts should be indexed if prices are difficult to forecast and nominal otherwise. Our analysis is based on a principal-agent model developed by Jovanovic and Ueda (1997) in which renegotiation can take place once the nominal value of the agent's output is observed. Their model assumes that agents use pure strategy, with the strong result that only nominal contracts can be written without being renegotiated. But, in reality, we do observe indexed contracts. We resolve this weakness of their ...
When should labor contracts be nominal?
This paper proposes a theory of when labor contract should be nominal or, instead, indexed. We find that, contracts should be indexed if prices are difficult to forecast and nominal otherwise. We use a principal-agent model developed by Jovanovic and Ueda (1997), with moral hazard, renegotiation, and where a signal (the nominal value of the sales of the agent) is observed before renegotiation takes place. We show that their result, that the optimal contract is nominal when agents must choose pure strategies, is robust to the case where agents can choose mixed strategies in the sense that, for ...
This time may not be that different: labor markets, the Great Recession and the (not so great) recovery
The last three U.S. recessions have been followed by ?jobless recoveries.? The lack of robust job growth once GDP starts to pick up has a lot people asking if labor markets have changed in some fundamental way. I look at employment and unemployment growth in every recession since the 1950s and find that the current levels of these indicators can be explained by the severity of the Great Recession and the slow growth of GDP in the recovery.