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Mr. Barry J. Eichengreen and Mr. Tamim Bayoumi
This paper considers the extent to which the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) meets the criteria for a common currency area. NAFTA is compared with the EC, a regional grouping for which initial plans for a monetary union are already in place. Most of the anticipated benefits from a monetary union in the EC apply with equal force to NAFTA. However, because the underlying disturbances are more diverse across members of NAFTA, the costs of abandoning the exchange rate instrument are likely to be higher. This is particularly true when NAFTA is compared to the EC’s continental core.
Mr. Tamim Bayoumi and Mr. Barry J. Eichengreen
This paper examines some popular explanations for the smooth operation of the pre-1914 gold standard. We find that the rapid adjustment of economies to underlying disturbances played an important role in stabilizing output and employment under the gold standard system, but no evidence that this success also reflected relatively small underlying disturbances. Finally, the paper also suggests an explanation for the evolution of the international monetary system based on growing nominal inertia over time.
Mr. Subir Lall and Mr. Li Zeng
Intangible investment is growing as a share of economic activity. We present a simple framework incorporating its distinguishing characteristic of generally greater scalability and lower marginal costs than tangible investment. We show evidence that this may have contributed to more elastic aggregate supply in recent years, which is consistent with lower inflation and a flattening of the Phillips curve. This framework also highlights the channels through which technological change, a large constituent of intangible investment, may be leading to wage stagnation and greater market concentration.
Mr. Tamim Bayoumi and Mr. Barry J. Eichengreen
Once upon a time, in the 1990s, it was widely agreed that neither Europe nor the United States was an optimum currency area, although moderating this concern was the finding that it was possible to distinguish a regional core and periphery (Bayoumi and Eichengreen, 1993). Revisiting these issues, we find that the United States is remains closer to an optimum currency area than the Euro Area. More intriguingly, the Euro Area shows striking changes in correlations and responses which we interpret as reflecting hysteresis with a financial twist, in which the financial system causes aggregate supply and demand shocks to reinforce each other. An implication is that the Euro Area needs vigorous, coordinated regulation of its banking and financial systems by a single supervisor—that monetary union without banking union will not work.
Mr. Subir Lall and Mr. Li Zeng

Intangible investment is growing as a share of economic activity. We present a simple framework incorporating its distinguishing characteristic of generally greater scalability and lower marginal costs than tangible investment. We show evidence that this may have contributed to more elastic aggregate supply in recent years, which is consistent with lower inflation and a flattening of the Phillips curve. This framework also highlights the channels through which technological change, a large constituent of intangible investment, may be leading to wage stagnation and greater market concentration.