2016-06 | With Carvalho and Hsu | April 2016
The Zero Lower Bound (ZLB) on interest rates is often regarded as an important constraint on monetary policy. To assess how the ZLB affected the Fed’s ability to conduct policy, we estimate the effects of Fed communication on yields of different maturities in the pre-ZLB and ZLB periods. Before the ZLB period, communication affects both short and long-dated yields. In contrast, during the ZLB period, the reaction of yields to communication is concentrated in longer-dated yields. Our findings support the view that the ZLB did not put such a critical constraint on monetary policy, as the Fed retained some ability to affect long-term yields through communication.
2016-05 | With Carvalho and Ferrero | April 2016
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.
2015-17 | With Hobijn | June 2016
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. Our results point to an upper-level elasticity of between 1, at a high level of aggregation that distinguishes 12 categories of goods and services, and 3, at the lowest level of aggregation with 74 categories.
2014-17 | With Carvalho | March 2015
We study how real exchange rate dynamics are affected by monetary policy in dynamic, stochastic, general equilibrium, sticky-price models. Our analytical and quantitative results show that the source of interest rate persistence –policy inertia or persistent policy shocks — is key. When the monetary policy rule has a strong interest rate smoothing component, these models fail to generate high real exchange rate persistence in response to monetary shocks, as policy inertia hampers their ability to generate a hump-shaped response to such shocks. Moreover, in the presence of persistent monetary shocks, increasing policy inertia may decrease real exchange rate persistence.
2013-32 | With Daly, Fernald, and Jorda | November 2014
The evolution of the secular and business-cycle comovement between different components of the production function and unemployment, Okun’s law, provides important stylized facts for macro modelers. We show that total hours worked adjust two-to-one to changes in the unemployment rate. The cyclicality of productivity has changed over time and as a function of the type of shock hitting the economy. Even the responses of different margins to shocks vary over time. We document these and other features of the data using the growth-accounting decomposition in Fernald (2014)
2013-31 | With Carvalho | May 2016
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.
2012-08 | With Carvalho | July 2012
The standard argument for abstracting from capital accumulation in sticky-price macro models is based on their short-run focus: over this horizon, capital does not move much. This argument is more problematic in the context of real exchange rate (RER) dynamics, which are very persistent. In this paper we study RER dynamics in sticky-price models with capital accumulation. We analyze both a model with an economy-wide rental market for homogeneous capital, and an economy in which capital is sector specific. We find that, in response to monetary shocks, capital increases the persistence and reduces the volatility of RERs. Nevertheless, versions of the multi-sector sticky-price model of Carvalho and Nechio (2011) augmented with capital accumulation can match the persistence and volatility of RERs seen in the data, irrespective of the type of capital. When comparing the implications of capital specificity, we find that, perhaps surprisingly, switching from economy-wide capital markets to sector-specific capital tends to decrease the persistence of RERs in response to monetary shocks. Finally, we study how RER dynamics are affected by monetary policy and find that the source of interest rate persistence – policy inertia or persistent policy shocks – is key.
2010-26 | September 2014
Using the Survey of Consumer Finances data about individual stocks ownership, I compare households’ decision to invest in domestic versus foreign stocks. The data show that information plays a larger role in households’ decision to enter foreign stock markets. Households that invest in foreign stocks are more sophisticated in their sources of information – they use the Internet more often as a main source of information, talk to their brokers, trade more frequently, and shop more for investment opportunities. Adding to the wedge between the two groups of investors, foreign stock owners are also substantially wealthier, more educated, and less risk averse than households who focus on domestic stocks only. Furthermore, ownership of foreign stocks increases if the household is headed by women.