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Debt, Price Flexibility and Aggregate Stability

The Jerome Levy Economics Institute Working Paper No. 52

28 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 1999  

John Caskey

Swarthmore College - Economics Department; Bard College - The Levy Economics Institute

Steven M. Fazzari

Washington University in St. Louis

Date Written: April 1991

Abstract

In conventional macroeconomic thought, price flexibility stabilizes the economy. The more quickly prices fall (or inflation decreases) in a demand-induced recession, the faster output returns to its full-employment level. An alternative tradition, however, suggests that price flexibility can be destabilizing. If a recession reduces aspectations of Jitlzre prices, this can raise current real interest rates and dampen aggregate demand. In addition, as actual cument prices fall in a recession, real debt burdens rise which can reduce aggregate demand due to financial distress or the response of capital markets. This paper presents simulations from a dynamic macroeconomic model designed to examine the empirical effects of price flexibility. Our results show that, for credible specifications and parameter values, the destabilizing effects of greater price flexibility can be larger than the conventional stabilizing channels. Therefore, it is possible that greater price flexibility magnifies the severity of economic contractions initiated by negative demand shocks.

JEL Classification: E31, E32

Suggested Citation

Caskey, John and Fazzari, Steven M., Debt, Price Flexibility and Aggregate Stability (April 1991). The Jerome Levy Economics Institute Working Paper No. 52. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=170508 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.170508

John Caskey (Contact Author)

Swarthmore College - Economics Department ( email )

Swarthmore, PA 19081
United States

Bard College - The Levy Economics Institute

Blithewood
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504
United States

Steven M Fazzari

Washington University in St. Louis ( email )

One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
314-935-5693 (Phone)
314-935-4156 (Fax)

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