Forthcoming in Economics Letters | With Carvalho
A calibrated three-sector model with a suitably chosen distribution of price stickiness can closely approximate the dynamic properties of New Keynesian models with a much larger number of sectors. The parameters of the approximate three-sector distribution are such that both the approximate and the original distributions share the same (i) average frequency of price changes, (ii) cross-sectional average of durations of price spells, (iii) cross-sectional standard deviation of durations of price spells, (iv) cross-sectional skewness of durations of price spells, and (v) cross-sectional kurtosis of durations of price spells. This result should prove useful to the literature that takes into account heterogeneity in price stickiness in DSGE models. In particular, it should allow for the estimation of such models at a much reduced computational cost.
Forthcoming in Journal of the European Economic Association | With Hobijn
We estimate the upper-level elasticity of substitution between goods and services of a nested aggregate CES preference specification. We show how this elasticity can be derived from the long-run response of the relative price of a good to a change in its VAT rate. We estimate this elasticity using new data on changes in VAT rates across 74 goods and services for 25 E.U. countries from 1996 through 2015. Depending on the level of aggregation, we find a VAT pass-through rate between 0.4 and 0.7. This implies an upper-level elasticity of 3, at the lowest level of aggregation with 74 categories, and 1(Cobb-Douglas preferences) at a high level of aggregation that distinguishes 10 categories
of goods and services.
Review of Economic Dynamics 22, October 2016, 208-222 | With Carvalho
We develop a multisector model in which capital and labor are free to move across firms within each sector, but cannot move across sectors. To isolate the role of sectoral specificity, we compare our model with otherwise identical multisector economies with either economy-wide or firm-specific factor markets. Sectoral factor specificity generates within-sector strategic substitutability and tends to induce across-sector strategic complementarity in price setting. Our model can produce either more or less monetary non-neutrality than those other two models, depending on parameterization and the distribution of price rigidity across sectors. Under the empirical distribution for the U.S., our model behaves similarly to an economy with firm-specific factors in the short-run, and later on approaches the dynamics of the model with economy-wide factor markets. This is consistent with the idea that factor price equalization might take place gradually over time, so that firm-specificity may serve as a reasonable short-run approximation, whereas economy-wide markets are likely a better description of how factors of production are allocated in the longer run.
European Economic Review 88, September 2016, 208-226 | With Carvalho and Ferrero
The demographic transition can affect the equilibrium real interest rate through three channels. An increase in longevity-or expectations thereof-puts downward pressure on the real interest rate, as agents build up their savings in anticipation of a longer retirement period. A reduction in the population growth rate has two counteracting effects. On the one hand, capital per-worker rises, thus inducing lower real interest rates through a reduction in the marginal product of capital. On the other hand, the decline in population growth eventually leads to a higher dependency ratio (the fraction of retirees to workers). Because retirees save less than workers, this compositional effect lowers the aggregate savings rate and pushes real rates up. We calibrate a tractable life-cycle model to capture salient features of the demographic transition in developed economies, and find that its overall effect is a reduction of the equilibrium interest rate by at least one and a half percentage points between 1990 and 2014. Demographic trends have important implications for the conduct of monetary policy, especially in light of the zero lower bound on nominal interest rates. Other policies can offset the negative effects of the demographic transition on real rates with different degrees of success.
Journal of Monetary Economics 66, September 2014, 108-123 | With Carvalho
We combine questions from the Michigan Survey about future inflation, unemployment, and interest rates to investigate whether households are aware of the basic features of U.S. monetary policy. Our findings provide evidence that some households form their expectations in a way that is consistent with a Taylor (1993)-type rule. We also document a large degree of variation in the pattern of responses over the business cycle. In particular, the negative relationship between unemployment and interest rates that is apparent in the data only shows up in households’ answers during periods of labor market weakness.
National Institute Economic Review 228: R58-R64, May 2014 | With Daly, Fernald, and Jorda
This note examines labor market performance across countries through the lens of Okun’s Law. We find that after the 1970s but prior to the global financial crisis of the 2000s, the Okun’s Law relationship between output and unemployment became more homogenous across countries. These changes presumably reflected institutional and technological changes. But, at least in the short term, the global financial crisis undid much of this convergence, in part because the affected countries adopted different labor market policies in response to the global demand shock.
American Economic Review 101(6), October 2010, 2391-2424 | With Carvalho
We study the purchasing power parity (PPP) puzzle in a multi-sector, two-country, sticky-price model. Across sectors, firms differ in the extent of price stickiness, in accordance with recent microeconomic evidence on price setting in various countries. Combined with local currency pricing, this leads sectoral real exchange rates to have heterogeneous dynamics. We show analytically that in this economy, deviations of the real exchange rate from PPP are more volatile and persistent than in a counterfactual one-sector world economy that features the same average frequency of price changes, and is otherwise identical to the multi-sector world economy. When simulated with a sectoral distribution of price stickiness that matches the microeconomic evidence for the U.S. economy, the model produces a half-life of deviations from PPP of 39 months. In contrast, the half-life of such deviations in the counterfactual one-sector economy is only slightly above one year. As a by-product, our model provides a decomposition of this difference in persistence that allows a structural interpretation of the different approaches found in the empirical literature on aggregation and the real exchange rate. In particular, we reconcile the apparently conflicting findings that gave rise to the “PPP Strikes Back debate” (Imbs et al. 2005a,b and Chen and Engel 2005).
– Earlier version, issued as Federal Reserve Bank of New York Staff Report 351 (October 2008)