Financial Frictions, the Housing Market, and Unemployment
2014-26 | With Branch and Rocheteau | November 2014
We develop a two-sector search-matching model of the labor market with imperfect mobility of workers, augmented to incorporate a housing market and a frictional goods market. Homeowners use home equity as collateral to finance idiosyncratic consumption opportunities. A financial innovation that raises the acceptability of homes as collateral raises house prices and reduces unemployment. It also triggers a reallocation of workers, with the direction of the change depending on firms’ market power in the goods market. A calibrated version of the model under adaptive learning can account for house prices, sectoral labor flows, and unemployment rate changes over 1996-2010.
2014-24 | With Wasmer and Zeng | September 2014
The renewal of interest in macroeconomic theories of search frictions in the goods market requires a deeper understanding of the cyclical properties of the intensive margins in this market. We review the theoretical mechanisms that promote either procyclical or countercyclical movements in time spent searching for consumer goods and services, and then use the American Time Use Survey to measure shopping time through the Great Recession. Average time spent searching declined in the aggregate over the period 2008-2010 compared to 2005-2007, and the decline was largest for the unemployed who went from spending more to less time searching for goods than the employed. Cross-state regressions point towards a procyclicality of consumer search in the goods market. At the individual level, time allocated to different shopping activities is increasing in individual and household income. Overall, this body of evidence supports procyclical consumer search effort in the goods market and a conclusion that price comparisons cannot be a driver of business cycles.
NBER WP19207 | With Zhang | July 2014
A search and matching model, when calibrated to the mean and volatility of unemployment in the postwar sample, can potentially explain the unemployment crisis in the Great Depression. The limited responses of wages from credible bargaining to labor market conditions, along with the congestion externality from matching frictions, cause the unemployment rate to rise sharply in recessions but decline gradually in booms. The frequency, severity, and persistence of unemployment crises in the model are quantitatively consistent with U.S. historical time series. The welfare gain from eliminating business cycle fluctuations is large.
Endogenous Disasters and Asset Prices
Unpublished Manuscript | With Zhang and Kuehn | October 2013
Frictions in the labor market are important for understanding the equity premium in the financial market. We embed the Diamond-Mortensen-Pissarides search framework into a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model with recursive preferences. The model produces realistic equity premium and stock market volatility, as well as a low and stable interest rate. The equity premium is countercyclical, and forecastable with labor market tightness, a pattern we confirm in the data. Intriguingly, three key ingredients (small profits, large job flows, and matching frictions) in the model combine to give rise endogenously to rare disasters a la Rietz (1988) and Barro (2006).
Solving the DMP Model Accurately
NBER WP19208 | With Zhang | July 2013
An accurate global algorithm is crucial for quantifying the dynamics of the Diamond-Mortensen-Pissarides model. Loglinearization understates the mean and volatility of unemployment, overstates the unemployment-vacancy correlation, and ignores impulse responses that are an order of magnitude larger in recessions than in booms. Although improving on loglinearization, the second-order perturbation in logs also induces large approximation errors. We demonstrate these insights within the context of Hagedorn and Manovskii (2008). Our quantitative results highlight the extreme importance of accurately accounting for nonlinear dynamics in quantitative macroeconomic studies.
Unemployment, Financial Frictions and the Housing Market
Unpublished Manuscript | With Rocheteau | March 2013
We develop and calibrate a two-sector, search-matching model of the labor market augmented to incorporate a housing market and a frictional goods market. The labor market is divided into a construction sector and a non-housing sector, and there is perfect mobility of unemployed workers across sectors. In the frictional goods market households, who lack commitment, finance random consumption opportunities with home equity loans. The model can generate multiple steady-state equilibria across which housing prices are negatively correlated with unemployment. Relaxing lending standards typically reduces unemployment, but it can have non-monotonic effects on housing prices and supply. It also leads to a reallocation of workers across sectors, the direction of which depends on firm’s market power in the goods market. Quantitatively, we find that innovations that generate an increase in home equity-based borrowing of the same magnitude as the one observed during the 90’s explain a reduction in the steady-state unemployment rate between 1/2 and 1 percentage point depending on the calibration strategy.
Macroeconomic Dynamics in a Model of Goods, Labor and Credit Market Frictions
Forthcoming in Journal of Monetary Economics | With Wasmer
This paper shows that goods-market frictions drastically change the dynamics of the labor market, bridging the gap with the data both in terms of persistence and volatility. In a DSGE model with three imperfect markets – goods, labor and credit – we find that credit- and goods-market imperfections are substitutable in raising volatility. Goods-market frictions are however unique in generating persistence. The two key mechanisms generating autocorrelation in growth rates and the hump-shaped pattern in the response to productivity shocks are related to the goods market: i) countercyclical dynamics of goods market tightness and prices, which alter future profit flows and raise persistence and ii) procyclical search effort in the goods market, by either consumers, firms or both, raises both amplification and persistence. Expanding our knowledge of goods market frictions is thus needed for a full account of labor market dynamics.
Credit, Vacancies and Unemployment Fluctuations
Review of Economic Dynamics 17(2), April 2014, lead article
Propagation in equilibrium models of search unemployment is altered when vacancy costs require some external financing on frictional credit markets. The easing of financing constraints during an expansion as firms accumulate net worth reduces the opportunity cost for resources allocated to job creation. The dynamics of market tightness are affected by (i) a cost channel, increasing the incentive to recruit for a given benefit from a new hire, and (ii) a wage channel, whereby firms’ improved bargaining position limits the upward pressure of market tightness on wages. Agency related credit frictions endogenously generate persistence in the dynamics of labor-market tightness, and have a moderate endogenous effect on amplification.
TFP During a Credit Crunch
Journal of Economic Theory 148(3), May 2013
The financial crisis of 2008 was followed by sharp contractions in aggregate output and The financial crisis of 2008 was followed by sharp contractions in aggregate output and employment and an unusual increase in aggregate total factor productivity (TFP). This paper attempts to explain these facts by modeling the creation and destruction of jobs in the presence of heterogeneity in firm productivity and frictional credit and labor markets. The aggregate level of TFP is determined by both the underlying distribution of firm productivity and the structures of the credit and labor markets. Adverse shocks to credit markets destroy the least productive jobs and slow job creation, thus raising aggregate TFP and unemployment, and reducing output.
The Cyclical Volatility of Labor Markets under Frictional Financial Market
American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics 5(1), January 2013 | With Wasmer
We provide a dynamic extension of an economy with search on credit and labor markets (Wasmer and Weil, 2004). Financial frictions create volatility: they add an additional, almost acyclical, entry cost to procyclical job creation costs, thus increasing the elasticity of labor market tightness to productivity shocks by a factor of 5 to 8, compared to a matching economy with perfect financial markets. We characterize a dynamic financial multiplier, that is increasing in total financial costs and minimized under a credit market Hosios-Pissarides rule. Financial frictions are an element of the solution to the volatility puzzle.