Le PIB potentiel des États-Unis et ses déterminants : la productivité de la main-d'oeuvre et le taux d'activité

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This study has three main objectives: first, to determine whether the good performance of the U.S. economy observed in recent years is attributable to an upsurge in potential GDP; second, to identify the variables related to aggregate supply, whose trend might explain the evolution in economic potential; finally, to observe whether, despite everything, the American economy was in a situation of excess demand in recent years. The methodology used is to estimate a structural VAR with six variables from which the permanent component of GDP (i.e., potential GDP) is extracted using restrictions on the long-run effects of structural shocks. The model makes it possible to identify three types of supply shocks, two of which are explicitly related to the trend of labour force productivity and of the participation rate. These two variables have been selected from a set of 10 indicators related to aggregate supply using an empirical criterion introduced in this study. The author concludes that 84 per cent of the fluctuations of long-run potential GDP are explained by shocks modifying the trends of labour force productivity and the participation rate. Furthermore, since 1995, the growth rate of potential GDP has been clearly above its historical average because of an increase in the trend of productivity and, to a lesser degree, in the trend of the participation rate. However, one cannot therefore conclude that there is no inflationary threat, since the output gap related to changes in the trend of inflation shows an excess demand of around 1 per cent. The rise in the trend of inflation is only very slightly visible, since it is hidden by certain real demand shocks that have temporarily driven inflation down.