Revisiting the Welfare Effects of Eliminating Business Cycles
Anthony A. Smith, Jr.
We investigate the welfare effects of eliminating business cycles in a model with substantial consumer heterogeneity. The heterogeneity arises from uninsurable and idiosyncratic uncertainty in preferences and employment status. We calibrate the model to match the distribution of wealth in U.S. data and features of transitions between employment and unemployment. In comparison with much of the literature, we find rather large effects. For our benchmark model, we find welfare effects that, on average across all consumers, are of a bit more than one order of magnitude larger than those computed by Lucas (1987). When we distinguish long- from short-term unemployment, long-term unemployment being distinguished by poor (and highly procylical) employment prospects and low unemployment compensation, the average gain from eliminating cycles is as much as 1% in consumption equivalents. In addition, in both models, there are large differences across groups: very poor consumers gain a lot when cycles are removed (the long-term unemployed as much as around 30%), as do very rich consumers, whereas the majority of consumers---the "middle class"---sees much smaller gains from removing cycles. Inequality also rises substantially upon removing cycles. (Copyright: Elsevier)
Cost of business cycles; Incomplete markets; Heterogeneity
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