ch06 - CHAPTER 6 AGGREGATE SUPPLY: WAGES, PRICES, AND...

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CHAPTER 6 AGGREGATE SUPPLY: WAGES, PRICES, AND UNEMPLOYMENT Solutions to the Problems in the Textbook : Conceptual Problems: 1. The aggregate supply curve and the Phillips curve describe very similar relationships and both curves can be used to analyze the same phenomena. The AS-curve shows a relationship between the price level and the level of output. The Phillips curve shows a relationship between the rate of inflation and the unemployment rate, given certain inflationary expectations. For example, a movement along the AS-curve depicts an increase in the price level that is associated with an increase in the level of output. As output increases, the rate of unemployment decreases (see Okun’s law). Therefore, with a larger increase in the price level (a higher level of inflation) there will be a decrease in unemployment, creating a downward-sloping Phillips curve. This downward sloping Phillips curve shifts whenever inflationary expectations change. If one assumes that workers will change their wage demands whenever their inflationary expectations change, one can conclude that a shift in the Phillips curve corresponds to a shift in the upward sloping AS-curve, since higher wages mean higher cost of production. 2. In the short run, when wages and prices are assumed to be fixed, there can be no inflation and thus the Phillips curve makes no sense over this very brief time frame. But in the medium run (in this chapter also often referred to as the short run), the Phillips curve is downward sloping as inflationary expectations are assumed to be constant. In the long run, the Phillips curve is vertical at the natural rate of unemployment, which corresponds to the vertical long-run AS-curve at the full-employment level of output. 3. A variety of explanations are given in this chapter for the stickiness of wages in the short or intermediate run. One is that workers have imperfect information and nobody knows the actual price level. People don’t know whether a change in their nominal wage is the result of an increase in prices or in the real wage they receive for the work they provide. Due to this uncertainty, labor markets will not clear immediately. Another argument relies on coordination problems, that is, different firms within an economy cannot coordinate price changes in response to monetary policy changes. Individual firms change their prices only reluctantly, since they are afraid of losing market share. The efficiency wage theory argues that employers pay above market-clearing wages to motivate their workers to work harder. Firms are also reluctant to change wages because of the perceived menu costs involved. There are long-term relations between firms and workers and wages are usually set in nominal terms by wage contracts, which are renegotiated only periodically. Thus real wages fluctuate over time as the price level changes. Finally, the insider-outsider model argues that firms negotiate only with their own employees but not with unemployed workers. Since a turnover in the labor force is costly to firms, they are willing to offer above market-clearing wages to the currently employed rather than hiring the unemployed who may be willing to work for lower wages.
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ch06 - CHAPTER 6 AGGREGATE SUPPLY: WAGES, PRICES, AND...

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