Job Heterogeneity and Aggregate Labor Market Fluctuations

March 14, 2019

By Pawel Krolikowski

This paper disciplines a model with search over match quality using microeconomic evidence on worker mobility patterns and wage dynamics. In addition to capturing these individual data, the model provides an explanation for aggregate labor market patterns. Poor match quality among first jobs implies large fluctuations in unemployment due to a responsive job destruction margin. Endogenous job destruction generates a burst of layoffs at the onset of a recession and, together with on-the-job search, generates a negative comovement between unemployment and vacancies. A significant job ladder, consistent with the empirical wage dispersion, provides ample scope for the propagation of vacancies and unemployment.

This is a cool paper that shows interesting heterogeneity in a labor search model. It should be applied to understand how demographic change alters the labor market and its dynamics.


Behavioural New Keynesian Models

March 3, 2019

By Robert Calvert Jump and Paul Levine

This paper provides a bird’s eye view of the behavioural New Keynesian literature. We discuss three key empirical regularities in macroeconomic data which are not accounted for by the standard New Keynesian model, namely, excess kurtosis, stochastic volatility, and departures from rational expectations. We then present a simple behavioural New Keynesian model that accounts for these empirical regularities in a straightforward manner. We discuss elaborations and extensions of the basic model, and suggest areas for future research.

Nice paper that considers extensions to the standard assumptions of the three-equation New-Keynesian model. It would be nice to see a similar one for DSGE models.

The Fiscal Theory of the Price Level in Overlapping Generations Models

February 6, 2019

By Roger Farmer and Pawel Zabczyk

We demonstrate that the Fiscal Theory of the Price Level (FTPL) cannot be used to determine the price level uniquely in the overlapping generations (OLG) model. We provide two examples of OLG models, one with three 3-period lives and one with 62-period lives. Both examples are calibrated to an income profile chosen to match the life-cycle earnings process in U.S. data estimated by Guvenen et al. (2015). In both examples, there exist multiple steady-state equilibria. Our findings challenge established views about what constitutes a good combination of fiscal and monetary policies. As long as the primary deficit or the primary surplus is not too large, the fiscal authority can conduct policies that are unresponsive to endogenous changes in the level of its outstanding debt. Monetary and fiscal policy can both be active at the same time.

This is intriguing and further opens the discussion about possibly multiple regimes in the economy, which has dramatic implications for the conduct of policy.

What Hides behind the German Labor Market Miracle? Unemployment Insurance Reforms and Labor Market Dynamics

February 2, 2019

By Benjamin Hartung, Philip Jung and Moritz Kuhn

A key question in labor market research is how the unemployment insurance system affects unemployment rates and labor market dynamics. We revisit this old question studying the German Hartz reforms. On average, lower separation rates explain 76% of declining unemployment after the reform, a fact unexplained by existing research focusing on job finding rates. The reduction in separation rates is heterogeneous, with long-term employed, high-wage workers being most affected. We causally link our empirical findings to the reduction in long-term unemployment benefits using a heterogeneous-agent labor market search model. Absent the reform, unemployment rates would be 50% higher today

I am really puzzled by the paper. Usually, when you have an economy with high unemployment rate, the job finding rate and the separation rate are both really low. A labor market reform then typically involves allowing the separation rate to increase, and then the job finding rate increases as well. But here, the separation rate decreased even further, with little consequence for the job finding rate. In other words, the labor market became even less flexible, yet the unemployment rate decreased substantially.

Endogenous forward guidance

February 1, 2019

By Boris Chafwehé, Rigas Oikonomou, Romanos Priftis and Lukas Vogel

We propose a novel framework where forward guidance (FG) is endogenously determined. Our model assumes that a monetary authority solves an optimal policy problem under commitment at the zero-lower bound. FG derives from two sources: 1. from commiting to keep interest rates low at the exit of the liquidity trap, to stabilize inflation today. 2. From debt sustainability concerns, when the planner takes into account the consolidated budget constraint in optimization. Our model is tractable and admits an analytical solution for interest rates in which 1 and 2 show up as separate arguments that enter additively to the standard Taylor rule. In the case where optimal policy reflects debt sustainability concerns (satisfies the consolidated budget) monetary policy becomes subservient to fiscal policy, giving rise to more volatile inflation, output and interest rates. Liquidity trap (LT) episodes are longer, however, the impact of interest rate policy commitments on inflation and output are moderate. ’Keeping interest rates low’ for a long period, does not result in positive inflation rates during the LT, in contrast our model consistently predicts negative inflation at the onset of a LT episode. In contrast, in the absence of debt concerns, LT episodes are shorter, but the impact of commitments to keep interest rates low at the exit from the LT, on inflation and output is substantial. In this case monetary policy accomplishes to turn inflation positive at the onset of the episode, through promising higher inflation rates in future periods. We embed our theory into a DSGE model and estimate it with US data. Our findings suggest that FG during the Great Recession may have partly reflected debt sustainability concerns, but more likely policy reflected a strong commitment to stabilize inflation and the output gap. Our quantitative findings are thus broadly consistent with the view that the evolution of debt aggregates may have had an impact on monetary policy in the Great Recession, but this impact is likely to be small.

I do not think we yet a good theory of forward guidance, even less of forward guidance policy formation. This paper offers an interesting perspective in this respect. It may also offer an answer as to how forward guidance could have contributed to avoiding significant inflation despite the large increase in money supply.

The Disability Option: Labor Market Dynamics with Macroeconomic and Health Risks

January 31, 2019

By Amanda Michaud and David Wiczer

We evaluate the contribution of changing macroeconomic conditions and demographics to the increase in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) over recent decades. Within our quantitative framework, multiple sectors differentially expose workers to health and economic risks, both of which affect individuals’ decisions to apply for SSDI. Over the transition, falling wages at the bottom of the distribution increased awards by 27% in the 1980s and 90s and aging demographics rose in importance thereafter. The model also implies two-thirds of the decline in working-age male employment from 1985 to 2013, three-fourths of which eventually goes on SSDI.

This is important news in understanding the decline in the labor force participation. I would be very curious to see this studied in other countries, especially in those where the labor force participation did not decline.

Innovation and Trade Policy in a Globalized World

January 11, 2019

Ufuk Akcigit, Sina T. Ates and Giammario Impullitti

How do import tariffs and R&D subsidies help domestic firms compete globally? How do these policies affect aggregate growth and economic welfare? To answer these questions we build a dynamic general equilibrium growth model where firm innovation endogenously determines the dynamics of technology, market leadership and trade flows, in a world with two large open economies at different stages of development. Firms R&D decisions are driven by (i) the defensive innovation motive, (ii) the expansionary innovation motive, and (iii) technology spillovers. The theoretical investigation illustrates that, statistically, globalization boosts domestic innovation through induced international competition. Accounting for transitional dynamics, we use our model for policy evaluation and compute optimal policies over different time horizons. The model suggests that the introduction of the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit in 1981 proves to be an effective policy response to foreign competition, generating substantial welfare gains in the long run. A counterfactual exercise shows that increasing tariffs as an alternative policy response improves domestic welfare only when the policymaker cares about the very short run, or when there is retaliation by the foreign economy. Protectionist measures generate large dynamic losses by distorting the impact of openness on innovation incentives and productivity growth. Finally our model predicts that a more globalized world entails less government intervention, thanks to innovation-stimulating effects of intensified international competition.