Abstract

The paper develops an efficiency-wage model in which input prices affect the equilibrium rate of unemployment. We show that a simple framework based on only two prices (the real price of oil and the real rate of interest) is able to explain the main postwar movements in the rate of U.S. joblessness. The equations do well in forecasting unemployment many years out of sample, and provide evidence that the oil-price spike associated with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait appears to be a component of the “mystery” recession that followed.

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