WorldCat Identities

Barsky, Robert B.

Works: 46 works in 270 publications in 2 languages and 1,933 library holdings
Genres: History  Longitudinal studies 
Roles: Author, Contributor, Other
Classifications: HB1, 330
Publication Timeline
Most widely held works by Robert B Barsky
A monetary explanation of the great stagflation of the 1970s by Robert B Barsky( Book )

20 editions published in 2000 in English and held by 138 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

The origins of stagflation and the possibility of its recurrence continue to be an important concern among policymakers and in the popular press. It is common to associate the origins of the Great Stagflation of the 1970s with the two major oil price increases of 1973/74 and 1979/80. This paper argues that oil price increases were not nearly as essential a part of the causal mechanism generating stagflation as is often thought. We provide a model that can explain the bulk of stagflation by monetary expansions and contractions without reference to supply shocks. Monetary fluctuations also help to explain variations in the price of oil (and other commodities) and help to account for the striking coincidence of major oil price increases and worsening stagflation. In contrast, there is no theoretical presumption that oil supply shocks are stagflationary. In particular, we show that oil supply shocks may quite plausibly lower the GDP deflator and that there is little independent evidence that oil supply shocks actually raised the deflator (as opposed to the CPI). The oil supply shock view also fails to explain the dramatic surge in the price of other industrial commodities that preceded the 1973/74 oil price increase and the fact that increases in industrial commodity prices lead oil price increases in the OPEC period
Accounting for the black-white wealth gap : a nonparametric approach by Robert B Barsky( )

15 editions published in 2001 in English and held by 116 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

This paper notes a potential problem in the method of Blinder and Oaxaca the most popular method in the literature for decomposing the mean difference between groups of a given variable into the portion attributable to differences in the distribution of some explanatory variables and differences in the conditional expectation functions. In its conventional application, the Blinder-Oaxaca method requires that a parametric assumption be made about the form of the conditional expectations function. We show that misspecification is likely to result in non-trivial errors in inference regarding the portion attributable to differences in the distribution of explanatory variables. A nonparametric alternative to the Blinder-Oaxaca method is proposed. Rather than specify an arbitrary functional form for the conditional expectations function, the method re-weights the empirical distribution of the outcome variable using weights that equalize the empirical distributions of the explanatory variable. Applying this method to the large black-white gap in net worth, we document a substantial difference in the estimated role of earnings differences between the two methods. Our estimates suggest that differences in earnings account for roughly two-thirds of the overall wealth gap
Why does the stock market fluctuate? by Robert B Barsky( )

17 editions published in 1992 in English and German and held by 114 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Large long-run swings in the United States stock market over the past century correspond to swings in estimates of fundamental values calculated by using a long moving average of past dividend growth to forecast future growth rates. Such a procedure would have been reasonable if investors were uncertain of the structure of the economy. and had to make forecasts of unknown and possibly-changing long-run dividend growth rates. The parameters of the stochastic process followed by dividends over the twentieth century cannot be precisely estimated even today at the century's end. Investors in the past had even less information about the dividend process. In such a context, it is difficult to see how investors can be faulted for implicitly forecasting future dividends by extrapolating past dividend growth
Oil and the macroeconomy since the 1970s by Robert B Barsky( )

15 editions published in 2004 in English and held by 112 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Increases in oil prices have been held responsible for recessions, periods of excessive inflation, reduced productivity and lower economic growth. In this paper, we review the arguments supporting such views. First, we highlight some of the conceptual difficulties in assigning a central role to oil price shocks in explaining macroeconomic fluctuations, and we trace how the arguments of proponents of the oil view have evolved in response to these difficulties. Second, we challenge the notion that at least the major oil price movements can be viewed as exogenous with respect to the US macroeconomy. We examine critically the evidence that has led many economists to ascribe a central role to exogenous political events in modeling the oil market, and we provide arguments in favor of 'reverse causality' from macroeconomic variables to oil prices. Third, although none of the more recent oil price shocks has been associated with stagflation in the US economy, a major reason for the continued popularity of the oil shock hypothesis has been the perception that only oil price shocks are able to explain the US stagflation of the 1970s. We show that this is not the case
What can the price gap between branded and private label products tell us about markups? by Robert B Barsky( )

14 editions published in 2001 in English and held by 112 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

In this paper we investigate the size of markups for nationally branded products sold in the U.S. retail grocery industry. Using scanner data from a large Midwestern supermarket chain, we compute several measures of upper and lower bounds on markup ratios for over 230 nationally branded products in 19 categories. Our method is based on the insight that retail and wholesale prices of private label products provide information on marginal costs that are also applicable to the appropriately matched nationally branded products. Under reasonable assumptions - the accuracy of which we consider in some detail - the wholesale price of a private label product is an upper bound for the marginal manufacturing cost of its nationally branded equivalent, while the retailer's margin on the national brand is an upper bound on the retailer's marginal handling cost for both the brand and private label versions. We find that lower bounds on the 'full' markup ratio range from 3.44 for toothbrushes and 2.23 for soft drinks to about 1.15-1.20 for canned tuna and frozen entrees, with the majority of categories falling in the range 1.40-2.10. Lower bounds on manufacturers' markups are even higher. Thus the data indicate that markups on nationally branded products sold in U.S. supermarkets are large
Do we really know that oil caused the Great Stagflation? : a monetary alternative by Robert B Barsky( )

17 editions published in 2001 in English and held by 107 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

This paper argues that major oil price increases were not nearly as essential a part of the causal mechanism that generated the stagflation of the 1970s as is often thought. There is neither a theoretical presumption that oil supply shocks are stagflationary nor robust empirical evidence for this view. In contrast, we show that monetary expansions and contractions can generate stagflation of realistic magnitude even in the absence of supply shocks. Furthermore, monetary fluctuations help to explain the historical movements of the prices of oil and other commodities, including the surge in the prices of industrial commodities that preceded the 1973/74 oil price increase. Thus, they can account for the striking coincidence of major oil price increases and worsening stagflation
Preference parameters and behavioral heterogeneity : an experimental approach in the health and retirement survey by Robert B Barsky( )

14 editions published between 1995 and 1997 in English and held by 106 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Individuals' preferences underlying most economic behavior are likely to display substantial heterogeneity. This paper reports on direct measures of preference parameters relating to risk tolerance, time preference, and intertemporal substitution. These experimental measures are based on survey respondents' choices in hypothetical situations. The questions are constructed with as little departure from the theorist's concept of the underlying parameter as possible. The individual measures of preference parameters display substantial heterogeneity. The majority of respondents fall into the least risk-tolerant group, but a substantial minority display higher risk tolerance. The individual measures of intertemporal substitution and time preference also display substantial heterogeneity. The mean risk tolerance is 0.25; the mean elasticity of intertemporal substitution is 0.2. Estimated risk tolerance and the elasticity of intertemporal substitution are essentially uncorrelated across individuals. Because the risk tolerance measure is obtained as part of the main questionnaire of a large survey, it can be related to a number of economic behaviors. Measured risk tolerance is positively related to a number of risky behaviors, including smoking, drinking, failing to have insurance, and holding stocks rather than Treasury bills. Although measured risk tolerance explains only a small fraction of the variation of the studied behaviors, these estimates provide evidence about the validity and usefulness of the measures of preference parameters
Do flexible durable goods prices undermine sticky price models? by Robert B Barsky( )

12 editions published in 2003 in English and held by 101 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Multi-sector sticky price models have surprising implications when durable goods have flexible prices. While in actual data the production of virtually all durables exhibits strong negative responses to monetary contractions, in dynamic general equilibrium models a monetary contraction causes the output of flexibly priced durables to expand. Indeed, in the polar case in which only nondurables have sticky prices, the negative comovement of durable and nondurable production exactly offsets and the behavior of aggregate output mimics that of a model with fully flexible prices. While this neutrality' result is special, the comovement problem' -- the perverse response of flexibly priced durables to monetary policy shocks -- is highly robust. When some durables prices are flexible and others sticky, the comovement problem still applies strongly to the subset of durables with flexible prices. We argue that new housing construction might be best characterized as a flexible price industry for which the comovement problem is relevant. The underlying reason for the comovement problem is the combination of a naturally high intertemporal elasticity of substitution for the purchases of durables and temporarily low marginal costs associated with economic contractions
Measuring the cyclicality of real wages : how important is composition bias? by Gary Solon( )

14 editions published in 1992 in English and held by 98 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

In the period since the 1960's, as in other periods, aggregate time series on real wages have displayed only modest cyclicality. Macroeconomists therefore have described weak cyclicality of real wages as a salient feature of the business cycle. Contrary to this conventional wisdom, our analysis of longitudinal microdata indicates that real wages have been substantially procyclical since the 1960's. We also find that the substantial procyclicality of men's real wages pertains even to workers that stay with the same employer and that women's real wages are less procyclical than men's. Numerous longitudinal studies besides ours have documented the substantial procyclicality of real wages, but none has adequately explained the discrepancy with the aggregate time series evidence. In accordance with a conjecture by Stockman (I983), we show that the true procyclicality of real wages is obscured in aggregate time series because of a composition bias: the aggregate statistics are constructed in a way that gives more weight to low-skill workers during expansions than during recessions. We conclude that, because real wages actually are much more procyclical than they appear in aggregate statistics, theories designed to explain the supposed weakness of real wage cyclicality may be unnecessary. and theories that predict substantially procyclical real wages become more credible
The seasonal cycle and the business cycle by Robert B Barsky( )

11 editions published between 1988 and 1989 in English and held by 80 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Almost all recent research on macroeconomic fluctuations has worked with seasonally adjusted or annual data. This paper takes a different approach by treating seasonal fluctuations as worthy of study in their own right. We document the quantitative importance of seasonal fluctuations, and we present estimates of the seasonal patterns in a set of standard macroeconomic variables. Our results show that seasonal fluctuations are an important source of variation in all macroeconomic quantity variables but small or entirely absent in both real and nominal price variables. The timing of the seasonal fluctuations consists of increases in the second and fourth quarter, a large decrease in the first quarter, and a mild decrease in the third quarter. The paper demonstrates that, with respect to each of several major stylized facts about business cycles, the seasonal cycle displays the same characteristics as the business cycle, in some cases even more dramatically than the business cycle. That is, we find that at seasonal frequencies as well as at business cycle frequencies, output movements across broadly defined sectors move together, the timing of production and sales coincide closely, labor productivity is procyclical, nominal money and real output are highly correlated, and prices vary less than quantities. There is a "seasonal business cycle" in the United States economy, and its characteristics mirror closely those of the conventional business cycle
Real wages over the business cycle by Robert B Barsky( )

5 editions published in 1989 in English and held by 75 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

This paper is an examination of cyclical real wage behavior in the United States since World War II. Like most previous aggregate studies. ours finds little cyclicalitv in aggregate industry real wage data. On the other hand, our analysis of longitudinal microdata from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics reveals substantial procyclicality. We find that this procyclicality is obscured in industry average wage statistics, and to a lesser extent in economywide averages, because those statistics are constructed in a way that gives greater weight to low-wage workers during expansions. The almost complete absence of evidence for countercyclical real wages suggests that movements along labor demand curves have not played a dominant role in cyclical employment fluctuations over the last 40 years. Instead, the procyclicality of real wages indicates that cyclical employment fluctuations have been generated mainly by shifts in labor demand. The sources of these shifts and of the positive slope of the effective labor supply curve, however, remain open to alternative interpretations
Bull and bear markets in the Twentieth Century by Robert B Barsky( )

8 editions published in 1989 in English and held by 72 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Abstract: from simple dividend growth forecasting rules, track the major decade-to-decade
The Japanese Bubble : a 'heterogeneous' approach by Robert B Barsky( )

8 editions published in 2009 in English and held by 71 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Employing the neutral Kindleberger definition of a bubble as "an upward price movement over an extended range that then implodes", this paper explores the causes of the "Japanese Bubble" of 1985 to 1990 without precluding the possibility that the bubble was due to perceptions of fundamentals. Survey evidence indicates that at the peak of the bubble in the second half of 1989, the majority of Japanese institutional investors thought that the Nikkei was not overvalued relative to fundamentals. Such a belief was not entirely unfounded. Long-term real interest rates fell sharply between 1985 and 1986, and the view that there was a significant increase in the permanent component of the growth rate was defensible though certainly not undeniable. Invoking the literature on asset prices with heterogeneous beliefs and limitations on short sales, the paper argues that in a period characterized by the arrival of news that is difficult to digest and subject to multiple interpretations, it is the more optimistic assessments of fundamentals that are likely to be reflected in the market equilibrium. At the same time, high prices resulting from the heterogeneity phenomenon are fragile and prone to collapse. From this vantage point it is perhaps not surprising that the Japanese Bubble, as well as the subsequent implosion, appeared when they did. Survey evidence on investor beliefs during the bubble period, as well as the covariation of price and volume, lend some support to the heterogeneity approach
Forecasting pre-World War I inflation : the Fisher effect revisited by Robert B Barsky( )

7 editions published in 1988 in English and held by 70 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

We consider the puzzling behavior of interest rates and inflation in the United States and the United Kingdom between 1879 and 1913. A deflationary regime prior to 1896 was followed by an inflationary one from 1896 until the beginning of World War I; the average inflation rate was 3.8 percentage points higher in the second period than in the first. Yet nominal interest rates were no higher after 1896 than they had been before. This nonadjustment of nominal interest rates would be consistent with rational expectations if inflation were not forecastable, and indeed univariate tests show little sign of serial correlation in inflation. However, inflation was forecastable on the basis of lagged gold production. Investors' expectations of inflation should have risen by at least three percentage points in the United States between 1890 and 1910. We consider in an information processing context alternative ways of accounting for this failure of interest rates to adjust, for example the possible beliefs that increases in gold production might be transitory. We conclude that the failure of investors to exhibit foresight with regard to the shift in the trend inflation rate after 1896 is not persuasive evidence that investors were negligent or naive in processing information
News shocks by Robert B Barsky( )

9 editions published between 2009 and 2010 in English and held by 70 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

We implement a new approach for the identification of "news shocks" about future technology. In a VAR featuring a measure of aggregate technology and several forward-looking variables, we identify the news shock as the shock orthogonal to technology innovations that best explains future variation in technology. In the data, news shocks account for the bulk of low frequency variation in technology. News shocks are positively correlated with consumption, stock price, and consumer confidence innovations, and negatively correlated with inflation innovations. The disinflationary nature of news shocks is consistent with the implications of sensibly modified versions of a New Keynesian model
Information, animal spirits, and the meaning of innovations in consumer confidence by Robert B Barsky( )

7 editions published in 2009 in English and held by 70 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Innovations to measures of consumer confidence convey incremental information about economic activity far into the future. Comparing the shapes of impulse responses to confidence innovations in the data with the predictions of a calibrated New Keynesian model, we find little evidence of a strong causal channel from autonomous movements in sentiment to economic outcomes (the "animal spirits" interpretation). Rather, these impulse responses support an alternative hypothesis that the surprise movements in confidence reflect information about future economic prospects (the "information" view). Confidence innovations are best characterized as noisy measures of changes in expected productivity growth over a relatively long horizon
Why don't the prices of stocks and bonds move together? by Robert B Barsky( )

8 editions published in 1986 in English and held by 69 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

The very low real interest rates on bonds in the 1970's were accompanied by a large drop in the value of common stocks relative to dividends and earnings. More generally, a number of authors have demonstrated that the real prices of debt and equity claims do not covary closely, and often move in opposite directions. This paper analyzes the effects of two disturbances - an increase in risk, and a slowing of productivity growth - each of which might rationalize a simultaneous drop in equity values and in real interest rates on bonds. As long as marginal utility is a convex function of consumption, an increase in risk depresses the return on riskless bonds. When all of the wealth of the economy is traded in the stock market, equity values fall with increasing equity risk only if the intertemporal elasticity of substitution in consumption exceeds unity. This same pattern occurs in response to a fall in productivity growth. In a richer two-real-asset model, which takes account of the fact that corporate capital has rarely been more than a quarter of total wealth, it is likely that both increased risk and lower productivity growth in the corporate sector would lead to a fall in stock prices, a drop in real interest rates, and a rise in the price of the second tangible asset -the pattern seen in the 1910's
Gibson's Paradox and the gold standard by Robert B Barsky( )

10 editions published between 1985 and 1990 in English and held by 68 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

This paper provides a new explanation for Gibson's Paradox -- the observation that the price level and the nominal interest rate were positively correlated over long periods of economic history. We explain this phenomenon interms of the fundamental workings of a gold standard. Under a gold standard, the price level is the reciprocal of the real price of gold. Because gold is adurable asset, its relative price is systematically affected by fluctuations inthe real productivity of capital, which also determine real interest rates. Our resolution of the Gibson Paradox seems more satisfactory than previous hypotheses. It explains why the paradox applied to real as well as nominal rates of return, its coincidence with the gold standard period, and the co-movement of interest rates, prices, and the stock of monetary gold during the gold standard period. Empirical evidence using contemporary data on gold prices and real interest rates supports our theory
The Fisher hypothesis and the forecastability and persistence of inflation by Robert B Barsky( )

8 editions published in 1986 in English and held by 68 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

For the period 1860 to 1939, the simple correlation of the U.S. commercial paper rate with the contemporaneous inflation rate is -.17. The corresponding correlation for the period 1950 to 1979 is .71. Inflation evolved from essentially a white noise process in the pre-World War I years to a highly persistent, nonstationary ARIMA process in the post-1960 period. I argue that the appearance of an ex post Fisher effect for the first time after 1960 reflects this change in the stochastic process of inflation, rather than a change in any structural relationship between nominal rates and expectedi nflation. I find little evidence of inflation non-neutrality in data from the gold standard period. This contradicts the conclusion of a frequently cited study by Lawrence Summers, who examined the low frequency relationship between inflation and interest rates using band spectrum regression. Deriving and implementing a frequency domain version of the Theil misspecification theorem, I find that neither high frequency nor low frequency movements in gold standard inflation rates were forecastable. Thus even if nominal rates responded fully to expected inflation, one would expect to find the zero coefficient obtained by Summers
The worldwide change in the behavior of interest rates and prices in 1914( )

10 editions published between 1987 and 1989 in English and held by 67 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

This paper evaluates the role of the destruction of the gold standard and the founding of the Federal Reserve, both of which occurred in 1914, in contributing to observed changes in the behavior of interest rates and prices after 1914. The paper presents a model of policy coordination in which the introduction of the Fed stabilizes interest rates, even if the gold standard remains intact, and it offers empirical evidence that the dismantling of the gold standard did not play a crucial role in precipitating the changes in interest rate behavior
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Alternative Names

controlled identityBarsky, Robert

B. Barsky, Robert

Barksy, Robert B.

Barsky, Robert

Robert Barsky economist (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago)

Robert Barsky Wirtschaftswissenschaftler/in (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago)

English (228)

German (1)