Trading down and the business cycle
The authors document two facts: First, during recessions consumers trade down in the quality of the goods and services they consume. Second, the production of low-quality goods is less labor intensive than that of high-quality goods. Therefore, when households trade down, labor demand falls, increasing the severity of recessions. The authors find that the trading-down phenomenon accounts for a substantial fraction of the fall in U.S. employment in the recent recession. They study two business cycle models that embed quality choice and find that the presence of quality choice magnifies the ...
We develop a tractable rational bubbles model with financial frictions, downward nominal wage rigidity, and the zero lower bound. The interaction of financial frictions and nominal rigidities leads to a "bubbly pecuniary externality," where competitive speculation in risky bubbly assets can result in excessive investment booms that precede inefficient busts. The collapse of a large bubble can push the economy into a "secular stagnation" equilibrium, where the zero lower bound and the nominal wage rigidity constraint bind, leading to a persistent and inefficient recession. We evaluate a ...
Household Services Expenditures: An Update
This post updates and extends my July 2011 blog piece on household discretionary services expenditures. I examine the most recent data to see what they reveal about the depth of decline in expenditures in the last recession and the extent of the recovery, and find that the expenditures appear to be further below the peak identified earlier. I then compare the pace of recovery for discretionary and nondiscretionary services in this expansion with that of previous expansions, finding that the pace in both cases is well below that of previous cycles. In summary, household spending continues to ...
Reading the Tea Leaves of the U.S. Business Cycle—Part One
The study of the business cycle—fluctuations in aggregate economic activity between times of widespread expansion and contraction—is one of the foremost pursuits in macroeconomics. But even distinguishing periods of expansion and recession can be challenging. In this post, we discuss different conceptual approaches to dating the business cycle, study their past performance for the U.S. economy, and highlight the informativeness of labor market indicators.
The Evolution of Local Labor Markets After Recessions
This paper studies how U.S. local labor markets respond to employment losses after recessions. Following each recession between 1973 and 2009, we find that areas that lose more jobs during the recession experience persistent relative declines in employment and population. Most importantly and contrary to prior work, these local labor markets also experience persistent decreases in the employment-population ratio and per capita earnings. Our results imply that limited population responses result in longer-lasting consequences for local labor markets than previously thought, and that recessions ...
Not All Bursting Market Bubbles Have the Same Recessionary Effect
The popped IT bubble ushered in an eight-month recession in 2001. The burst housing bubble resulted in the Great Recession (2007-09). Why the difference?
Place-Based Consequences of Person-Based Transfer: Evidence from Recessions
This paper studies how government transfers respond to changes in local economic activity that emerge during recessions. Local labor markets that experience greater employment losses during recessions face persistent relative decreases in per capita earnings. However, these areas also experience persistent increases in per capita transfers, which offset 16 percent of the earnings loss on average. The increase in transfers is driven by unemployment insurance in the short run, and medical, retirement, and disability transfers in the long run. Our results show that nominally place-neutral ...
How Many People Doubled Up after Losing Housing in Aftermath of Past Recessions?
People often move in with family or friends because they have lost housing or seek to economize after recessions.
The Challenges in Dating the End of Recessions
Pegging the end of a recession is harder than identifying its start because a sharp contraction is easier to note and data are volatile during the recovery.
The Great Mortgaging: Housing Finance, Crises, and Business Cycles
This paper unveils a new resource for macroeconomic research: a long-run dataset covering disaggregated bank credit for 17 advanced economies since 1870. The new data show that the share of mortgages on banks? balance sheets doubled in the course of the 20th century, driven by a sharp rise of mortgage lending to households. Household debt to asset ratios have risen substantially in many countries. Financial stability risks have been increasingly linked to real estate lending booms which are typically followed by deeper recessions and slower recoveries. Housing finance has come to play a ...