The Labor Market, Business Cycles, and Economic Instability

  • Piero Ferri
  • Edward Greenberg
Part of the Lecture Notes in Economics and Mathematical Systems book series (LNE, volume 325)


Theories of business cycles centered upon labor market variables have considered four topics:
  1. i)

    the full employment constraint, setting a ceiling to the process of growth;

  2. ii)

    real wage changes, affecting income distribution and hence the process of accumulation and saving;

  3. iii)

    wage and price changes, affecting the labor supply;

  4. iv)

    wage and price dynamics, creating deflationary or inflationary kinds of instability.



Labor Market Monetary Policy Business Cycle Real Wage Full Employment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 1.
    The Phillips curve emerged first as a nonlinear and inverse dependence of the rate of change of nominal wages on the rate of unemployment and was rationalized by relating unemployment to the excess supply of labor. See Phillips(1958) and Lipsey(1960).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The Phillips curve methodology shares both these aspects. On the one hand, it refers to reduced forms. On the other, it deals either with short- or long-run aspects, neglecting the medium-run perspective. ‘Loops’, which are obtained by introducing rates of change in the variables, are an attempt at considering dynamic aspects. . On the other hand, these aspects are explicitly considered by those theories, based on hysteresis, which try to contrast the natural rate hypothesis. The new approach claims that “the states of rest of economic systems are characterized by unemployment equilibria which, if they exist, depend on the history of the shocks to actual employment.” (See Cross-Hutchinson, 1988, p. 3) In this perspective, “hysteresis effects on unemployment are those which come after the removal or reversal of the impulses which initially give rise to a change in unemployment: the implication is that once the impulses disappear unemployment will tend to persist in the form acquired during the operation of the impulses.” (ibid.)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    The expression is used by Phelps (1987). See also Phelps (1985).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    This debate overlaps with Keynes’s discussion of the role of wage flexibility. See Hahn (1987) and Flemming (1987). The latter concludes: “A policy designed to increase wage flexibility,...which one might expect to be “a good thing,” can only be relied upon to raise welfare if other policies, notably monetary policy, are also optimized.” (p. 173)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    For instance, in the U. K. monetary wages decreased by 5% between 1900 and 1904 and increased by the same percentage from 1904 to 1913. These averages must be interpreted with care, however; a careful examination of the data reveals that only some sectors followed this pattern.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Some French economists refer to “Regulation” (see Boyer, 1985) to indicate the working of a complex homeostatic mechanism. For a discussion of these concepts, see also Piore (1987)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    For a discussion on these points, see Brunetta-Dell’Aringa(1989).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Piero Ferri
    • 1
  • Edward Greenberg
    • 2
  1. 1.University of BergamoBergamoItaly
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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