Economics 304 Homework #1 – A ride into reality!Question
125 points total
Instructions: Please show all work or points will be taken off. Good luck! In this first homework assignment, we are getting our ‘hands dirty’ to get familiar with
some of the major macroeconomic variables that we will be using and working with
throughout the semester. Our first chapter with ‘something to sink our teeth into’ is
chapter 3 in the packet and it is all about the factors of production, the labor market, and
of course, the production function. Major variables in this part of the macroeconomy
(i.e., the supply side of the economy) include, but certainly are not limited to,
employment (denoted N), real wages (denoted w = W/P where W = nominal wage and P
is the price index – typically the CPI or the PCE index) and real GDP (denoted Y). When
we move to the demand side of the economy we encounter many more major
macroeconomic variables including consumption (C), investment (I), and the real interest
rate (denoted r), among others. We are going to use FRED as our source of data (many
professional economists use this site, nice clean data!)1 1 FRED stands for Federal Reserve Economic Data.- click Here for the FRED website YOU MUST SHOW ALL WORK, IF YOU SIMPLY PUT THE ANSWER DOWN
YOU GET ZERO POINTS – I know for a fact that many students copy each others
homework! Take all calculations to two decimal places.
1.(35 points total) The Peanuts comic below motivated parts a) and b) of this question –
as you may know, Charles Shulz was the creator of peanuts and wrote the strip for nearly
50 years. I am not sure when the comic below was written so let’s assume (economists
love to assume!) that it was written in May of 1958. a)(5 points) Snoopy mentions that coffee is eighty-nine referring to the price of a pound
of coffee back in May of 1958 = 89 cents. Using the CPI data (link below), what was the
real price of coffee back in May of 1958?
b) (5 points) Now let’s fast forward to the present. What would the price of coffee need
to be now to equal the real price of coffee back in May of 1958? (use July of 2017 for
Use the following link to answer part c) below
Click Here for data on the MW
c) (5 points) What is the rate of inflation between 1996 and 1997? (please take inflation
rate to two decimals)
d) (5 points) What would the nominal minimum wage have to be in 1967 to equal the real
purchasing power of the minimum wage in 2015? 2 Use the two links below to answer questions e) and f)
e)(5 points) Calculate the percent change in nominal wages between October of 2011
and October 2012 and compare to the percent change in nominal wages between July of
2016 and July of 2017. Which does Janet Yellen and the Fed prefer and why?
f) (10 points) Calculate the percent change in the real wage between October of 2011 and
October 2012 and compare to the percent change in the real wage between July of 2016
and July of 2017. Use the formula %?(W/P) = %?W – %?P
2. (45 points) We discussed the port in the cruise ship analogy and the associated dual
mandate given to the Fed by Congress (click Here for more). We also mentioned that we
are doing quite well, at least statistically, with regard to achieving the dual mandate, the
best in many years.
In terms of achieving the dual mandate, we have a real goal and a nominal goal. One of
the real goals is for real GDP to be at potential GDP and/or real GDP growth to equal
potential GDP growth. You will need the following two links to answer this question:
a)(5 points) Using the most recent data (2017:Q2), calculate the GDP gap as defined as:
[(Real GDP – Potential GDP)/ Potential GDP] x 100
b)(5 points) Is your answer in part a) above consistent with the Fed raising interest rates,
why or why not? Hint: the term lag needs to be in your answer.
c) (5 points) Calculate what the GDP Gap was at the trough of the great recession – click
Here to identify when the trough was.
d) (5 points) Calculate what the GDP Gap was at the trough of the 2001 recession – click
Here to identify when the trough was. 3 e) (5 points) Let us look at the previous 2 recessions in the US by looking at the
unemployment gap as defined by the actual unemployment rate minus NAIRU. Returning
to the troughs of each recession, estimate the unemployment gap for each recession. Use
the links below.
f)(10 points) The average age for the students in econ 304 is probably around 20 years
old. Using the links below, calculate the real wage 20 years ago (July 1997) as well as the
real wage using the most recent data (July 2017).
g)(10 points) Now draw a graph locating point A as the conditions in July of 1997 and
point B with the latest conditions. In the vertical axis is the real wage and on the
horizontal axis is N – employmnet. Make sure you label the graph completely. How
many more people are working now relative to 20 years ago???
3. (45 points total)
a) (5 points) Using the links below, calculate the most recent one year ex-post real rate of
interest. Note that the most previous actual rate of inflation is from July 2016 – July 2017.
one year interest rate
b) (5 points) Now calculate the most recent one year ex-ante real rate of interest.
c)(5 points) My father and I used to discuss the difference between real and nominal
interest rates. He would always refer to the good ole times when nominal rates were high
in the 1980s. Let’s go back top July of 1984. Calculate the ex-post real rate of interest for
the period July 1984 to July of 1985. Use the same links as above. 4 d)(10 points) Draw two baskets (like we did in class) of goods and services, one for July
1984 and one for July of 1985. Let the basket in July of 1984 equal $100. Show the real
return as calculated above – be specific and use the correct numbers!
We discussed the evils of deflation.
e) (10 points) From a macroeconomic perspective, why is deflation so bad? Please refer
to consumer behavior and the corresponding behavior of firms in a deflationary
environment. Please explain completely.
f) (10 points)Now discuss the fact that persistent deflation is the central bank’s worst
nightmare Why is this environment such a nightmare for the central bank and monetary
policy and why is persistent deflation such a nightmare? Explain using the Fisher
equation for the real rate of interest and refer to both the ex-post and ex-ante real rate of
Economics 304 Homework #1 – A ride into reality!Question