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Freund, L. B. and Rendahl, P.

Unexpected Effects: Uncertainty, Unemployment, and Inflation

WP Number: 2020

Abstract: This paper studies the role of uncertainty in a search-and-matching framework with risk-averse households. A mean-preserving spread to future productivity contracts current economic activity even in the absence of nominal rigidities, although the effect is reinforced by the presence of the latter. That is, uncertainty shocks carry both contractionary demand- and supply effects. The reason is that a more uncertain future increases the precautionary behavior of households, which reduces interest rates and contracts demand. At the same time, as future asset prices becomes more volatile and positively covary with aggregate consumption, households demand a larger risk premium, which puts negative pressure on current asset values and thereby contracts supply. Thus, in comparison to a pure negative demand shock, an uncertainty shock puts less deflationary pressure on the economy and, as a result, renders a flatter Phillips curve.

Keywords: COVID-19, Uncertainty, unemployment, inflation, search frictions

JEL Codes: J64 E21 E32

Author links: Pontus Rendahl  Lukas Freund  - Winner of CERF best student paper award

PDF: wp2020.pdf

COVID-19 Economic Research Special Feature: COVID-Induced Uncertainty: Implications for Unemployment, Inflation, and Policy