Comments on Gali s Hysteresis and the European Unemployment Problem Revised

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1 Comments on Gali s Hysteresis and the European Unemployment Problem Revised Robert J. Gordon Northwestern University, NBER, CEPR ECB Forum on Central Banking, Sintra, Portugal, May 22, 2015

2 Starting Point: Euro Unemployment Rate Behaves Differently Than US US: Substantial cyclicality with consistent reversion toward a roughly constant mean. Euro area unemployment: Wanders around an upward trend Can t reject a UNIT ROOT Movements less volatile than US Movements more persistent than US No tendency to gravitate toward a long-run equilibrium value

3 My Discussion Raises More Questions than Answers Questions about the Unit Root characterization Euro Unemployment similarities to US Similarities US vs. Euro inflation process Reasons to study inflation behavior in preference to wage change behavior Brief update: Econometric model for US inflation How close can we come to using that model on Euro-area inflation? Brief comments on the paper s three models

4 Unemployment, Percent Indeed Euro and US Unemployment Series are Very Different, Figure 1. Unemployment Rates in the United States and Euro Area, Euro Area United States

5

6 Unemployment, Percent Omit Figure 2. Unemployment Rates in the United States and Euro Area, Euro Area United States

7 Unemployment, Percent Regressions Euro U on US U, Lags 4 and 12, Constant Fixed at Figure 4. Model of Euro Area Unemployment, Constant Constrained at 3.55 Percent, Actual Values 10 8 Fi ed Values

8 Unemployment, Percent Freely Estimated Constant 14 Figure 3. Model of Euro Area Unemployment, Freely Es mated Constant, Actual Values 10 8 Fi ed Values

9 Augment Table 1 for , Unit Root Rejected for Europe Table 1. ADF Unit Root Tests, Revised Euro area United States Euro area United States 1 lag 4 lags 1 lag 4 lags 1 lag 4 lags 1 lag 4 lags * -2.97* -3.28* -2.73** -2.83** Note: t-statistics of Augmented Dickey-Fuller tests (with intercept) for the null of a unit root in the unemployment rate. Sample period 1970Q1-2014Q4 and 1980Q1-2014Q4. Single asterisks denote significance at the 5 percent level, double asterisk at the 10 percent level. Critical values (adjusted for sample size) for the null of a unit root are (10%) and (5%).

10 Reasons to Study Inflation (Change in Prices) Instead of Changes in Wages Central banks have an inflation target, not a wage change target Time series on compensation per hour are noisy Productivity growth (θ) mediates effect of wage changes on inflation, change in ULC = π w - θ Inflation equals change in unit labor cost only if labor s share is constant: π p = change in ULC Reality: Euro s labor share exhibits persistent movement up and then down

11 Euro Level of Labor s Share

12 US vs. Euro Inflation Rate, Can You Tell the Difference?

13 US vs. Euro Wage Change, Major Differences,

14 Some of the Difference Explained by Productivity Trends

15 US vs. Euro Change in Trend Unit Labor Cost

16 Explaining US Inflation: Demand in the 1960s, Supply in 1970s

17 Triangle Model Fit to 1962:Q1 to 2006:Q4

18 Dynamic Simulation, 2007:Q1 to 2015:Q1

19 Parallel Inflation Equations, Euro vs. US

20 Euro Actual Unemployment, NAIRU, and Unemployment Gap

21 The Only Way to Test an Inflation Equation: Dynamic Simulation

22 Add the Hysteresis Effect, 4-Quarter Change in Unemployment

23 Dynamic Simulation Nails the Actual Values in 2014

24 Comments on Natural Rate Model Natural Rate model generates increased unemployment through an exogenous shock to wage markup Operates like an oil shock, raising inflation and unemployment, reducing output Is wage markup shock a plausible event in data covering the entire Euro area when wage bargaining is still done at the national level? In principle the wage mark-up shock is a plausible explanation of the increase in labor s share in the 1970s that contributed to inflation and disinflation

25 Long-Run Tradeoff Model Now the shock is to price target of central bank Price adjusts immediately, output and unemployment react slowly This is the opposite timing sequence of the real world, where the instrument of the central bank is the interest rate, not the price level. A long, slow slog to change inflation rate. Think of the Volcker disinflation of Interest rates rise, AD declines, unemployment rises, and only then does inflation respond

26 Disinflation : High Interest Rates Followed by Decline of Inflation

27 Hysteresis Model Standard definition: dependence of wage and price change on CHANGE in unemployment rate, not the LEVEL of the unemployment rate The model makes wage change depend on the change in employment, not unemployment But wage change was roughly constant , whereas employment growth was , , then No significance test of level effect vs. change effect Despite these caveats, I think hysteresis in the form of insider-outsider effects and downward wage rigidity is a big part of the European unemployment story

28 Conclusion: Puzzles About Euro Inflation-Unemployment Process Puzzle #1, why was U rate so low pre-1975? This was the period of rebuilding and catching up. Excess demand, rapid productivity growth Rapid labor supply growth from farm to city migration Puzzle #2, why U rate rose so much ? Potent trio of oil shock, labor share wage markup shock, wage indexation regime of disinflation. Puzzle #3, why U rate so high compared to US? Rephrase question. Why is March 2015 U rate 4.8 percent in Germany and 11.3 in Euro area? Answer? Some mix of insider-outsider and structural maladjustment. The Italians were still raising wages in

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