This study assesses the impact of major health insurance reform in Massachusetts on the prices of services paid to physicians in the privately insured market. We estimate that the reform caused physician payments to increase at least 10.8 percentage points. This impact occurred while the legislation was materializing but before the final compromised version of the reform was enacted in April 2006. This finding is consistent with prices being set in a forward-looking manner, in anticipation of the reform. Overall, one-sixth of physician service price growth in Massachusetts between 2003 and 2010 was directly attributable to the insurance reform.
Using a banking firm’s unexpected loan loss provision to proxy for earnings management, it is found to have a significantly positive effect on bank opacity. The explanatory power of earnings management on bank opacity is stronger during the pre-crisis period than during the 2007-2009 financial crisis. When we examine the effects of delays in loan loss recognition on bank opacity, we found strong statistical relations during the financial crisis period, while the results for the pre-crisis period are mixed. We conclude that bank opacity is related to unexpected loan loss provision as well as delays in loan loss recognition.
This paper presents a regime-switching model of the yield curve with two states: a normal state and a zero-bound state for the case when the monetary policy target rate is stuck at the nominal zero bound, as the U.S. economy has been since December 2008. The model delivers estimates of the time-varying probability of exiting the zero-bound state and can be applied to generate outcome-contingent forecasts useful for portfolio stress tests. The results show that the probability of remaining in the zero-bound state has trended upward since 2009, with notable upticks following Federal Reserve decisions to provide further monetary stimulus, whether through asset purchases or forward guidance.
The recent financial crisis has led to large declines in world interest rates and surges of capital flows to emerging market economies. We examine the effectiveness and welfare implications of capital control policies in the face of such external shocks in a monetary DSGE model of a small open economy. We consider both optimal, time-varying restrictions on capital inflows and a simple capital account restriction, such as a constant tax on foreign debt holdings. We then compare the effectiveness of such capital account restrictions under alternative monetary regimes. We find that the optimal time-varying capital control policy is very effective in mitigating foreign interest rate shocks, but less effective for insulating the economy from export demand shocks; in the presence of export demand shocks, an exchange-rate stabilizing monetary policy regime can enhance macroeconomic stability and improve welfare. Under a simple and more practical capital control policy, a monetary policy regime that places larger weight on inflation fluctuations leads to additional gains in macroeconomic stability, although an exchange-rate stabilizing regime leads to even greater gains. Our findings suggest that, with either type of capital control policies, stabilizing the real exchange rate is a robust and effective monetary policy to help weather external shocks.
A growth-accounting decomposition of “Okun’s Law” sheds light on the empirical magnitude of key margins of adjustment used by firms and households. Using this decomposition, we investigate the evolution of the business-cycle comovement between different components of the production function and unemployment. Changes in the cyclical behavior of labor productivity stand out. Our results provide insight into desirable features of macro models that seek to match central facts about both labor markets and business cycles.
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 factor markets (as in Chari et al. 2000) or firm-specific factor markets (as in Woodford 2005). Sectoral specificity induces within-sector strategic substitutability and 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 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 might be a reasonable short-run approximation, whereas economy-wide markets might be a better description of how factors of production are allocated in the longer run.
A flexible labor margin allows households to absorb shocks to asset values with changes in hours worked as well as changes in consumption. This ability to absorb shocks along both margins can greatly alter the household’s attitudes toward risk, as shown in Swanson (2012). The present paper analyzes how frictional labor markets affect that analysis. Risk aversion is higher: 1) in recessions, 2) in countries with more frictional labor markets, and 3) for households that have more difficulty finding a job. These predictions are consistent with empirical evidence from a variety of sources. Traditional, fixed-labor measures of risk aversion show no stable relationship to the equity premium in a standard real business cycle model with search frictions, while the closed-form expressions derived in the present paper match the equity premium closely.
What determines the frequency domain properties of a stochastic process? How much risk comes from high frequencies, business cycle frequencies or low frequency swings? If these properties are under the influence of an agent, who is compensated by a principal according to the distribution of risk across frequencies, then the nature of this contracting problem will affect the spectral properties of the endogenous outcome. We imagine two thought experiments: in the first, the principal (or “regulator”) is myopic with regard to certain frequencies—he is characterized by a filter—and the agent (“bank”) chooses to hide risk by shifting power from frequencies to which the regulator is attuned to those to which he is not. Thus, the regulator is fooled into thinking there has been an overall reduction in risk when, in fact, there has simply been a frequency shift. In the second thought experiment, the regulator is not myopic, but simply cares more about risk from certain frequencies, perhaps due to the preferences of the constituents he represents or because certain types of market incompleteness make certain frequencies of risk more damaging. We model this intuition by positing a filter design problem for the agent and also by a particular type of portfolio selection problem, in which the agent chooses among investment projects with different spectral properties. We discuss implications of these models for macroprudential policy and regulatory arbitrage.
In order for consumption based asset pricing models to reconcile data on returns with that on consumption, researchers have resorted to augmenting the consumption series in exotic ways. When an agent’s consumption series is subject to changes in volatility, we show that concerns for model misspecification can induce fears of both disasters and long run risk. We appeal to this pessimistic view to explain why introducing stochastic volatility in the presence of model uncertainty helps generate a more plausible unconditional market price of risk and time variation in the conditional market price of risk. Our analysis is based on a parameterization derived from Bayesian estimation of our stochastic volatility model using US consumption data.
Over the past quarter century, labor’s share of income in the United States has trended downwards, reaching its lowest level in the postwar period after the Great Recession. Detailed examination of the magnitude, determinants and implications of this decline delivers five conclusions. First, around one third of the decline in the published labor share is an artifact of a progressive understatement of the labor income of the self-employed underlying the headline measure. Second, movements in labor’s share are not a feature solely of recent U.S. history: The relative stability of the aggregate labor share prior to the 1980s in fact veiled substantial, though offsetting, movements in labor shares within industries. By contrast, the recent decline has been dominated by trade and manufacturing sectors. Third, U.S. data provide limited support for neoclassical explanations based on the substitution of capital for (unskilled) labor to exploit technical change embodied in new capital goods. Fourth, institutional explanations based on the decline in unionization also receive weak support. Finally, we provide evidence that highlights the offshoring of the labor-intensive component of the U.S. supply chain as a leading potential explanation of the decline in the U.S. labor share over the past 25 years.
The second round of large-scale asset purchases by the Federal Reserve—frequently referred to as QE2—included repeated purchases of Treasury inflation-protected securities (TIPS). To quantify the effect QE2 had on the functioning of the TIPS market and the related market for inflation swaps, we exploit the measure of combined liquidity premiums in TIPS yields and inflation swap rates derived by Christensen and Gillan (2012). We find that, on TIPS purchase dates, the liquidity premium dropped by 8 to 11 basis points depending on maturity, or about 50 percent. Furthermore, the effect was sustained on nonpurchase dates during most of the program, but dissipated towards its end.
Elevated government debt levels in advanced economies have risen rapidly as sovereigns absorbed private sector losses and cyclical deficits blew up in the Global Financial Crisis and subsequent slump. A rush to fiscal austerity followed but its justifications and impacts have been heavily debated. Research on the effects of austerity on macroeconomic aggregates remains unsettled, mired by the difficulty of identifying multipliers from observational data. This paper reconciles seemingly disparate estimates of multipliers within a unified framework. We do this by first evaluating the validity of common identification assumptions used by the literature and find that they are largely violated in the data. Next, we use new propensity score methods for time-series data with local projections to quantify how contractionary austerity really is, especially in economies operating below potential. We find that the adverse effects of austerity may have been understated.
We develop flexible semiparametric time series methods that are then used to assess the causal effect of monetary policy interventions on macroeconomic aggregates. Our estimator captures the average causal response to discrete policy interventions in a macro-dynamic setting, without the need for assumptions about the process generating macroeconomic outcomes. The proposed procedure, based on propensity score weighting, easily accommodates asymmetric and nonlinear responses. Application of this estimator to the effects of monetary restraint shows the Fed to be an effective inflation fighter. Our estimates of the effects of monetary accommodation, however, suggest the Federal Reserve’s ability to stimulate real economic activity is more modest. Estimates for recent financial crisis years are similar to those for the earlier, pre-crisis period.
This paper studies the empirical relevance of temptation and self-control using household-level data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey. We construct an infinite-horizon consumption-savings model that allows, but does not require, temptation and self-control in preferences. In the presence of temptation, a wealth-consumption ratio, in addition to consumption growth, becomes a determinant of the asset-pricing kernel, and the importance of this additional pricing factor depends on the strength of temptation. To identify the presence of temptation, we exploit an implication of the theory that a more tempted individual should be more likely to hold commitment assets such as IRA or 401(k) accounts. Our estimation provides empirical support for temptation preferences. Based on our estimates, we explore some quantitative implications of this class of preferences for capital accumulation in a neoclassical growth model and the welfare cost of the business cycle.
We integrate the housing market and the labor market in a dynamic general equilibrium model with credit and search frictions. The model is confronted with the U.S. macroeconomic time series. Our estimated model can account for two prominent facts observed in the data. First, the land price and the unemployment rate tend to move in opposite directions over the business cycle. Second, a shock that moves the land price is capable of generating large volatility in unemployment. Our estimation indicates that a 10 percent drop in the land price leads to a 0.34 percentage point increase of the unemployment rate (relative to its steady state).
The zero lower bound on nominal interest rates began to constrain many central banks’ setting of short-term interest rates in late 2008 or early 2009. According to standard macroeconomic models, this should have greatly reduced the effectiveness of monetary policy and increased the efficacy of fiscal policy. However, these models also imply that asset prices and private-sector decisions depend on the entire path of expected future short-term interest rates, not just the current level of the monetary policy rate. Thus, interest rates with a year or more to maturity are arguably more relevant for asset prices and the economy, and it is unclear to what extent those yields have been affected by the zero lower bound. In this paper, we apply the methods of Swanson and Williams (2013) to medium- and longer-term yields and exchange rates in the U.K. and Germany. In particular, we compare the sensitivity of these rates to macroeconomic news during periods when short-term interest rates were very low to that during normal times. We find that: 1) USD/GBP and USD/EUR exchange rates have been essentially unaffected by the zero lower bound, 2) yields on German bunds were essentially unconstrained by the zero bound until late 2012, and 3) yields on U.K. gilts were substantially constrained by the zero lower bound in 2009 and 2012, but were surprisingly responsive to news in 2010–11. We compare these findings to the U.S. and discuss their broader implications.
Has the recent wave of capital controls and prudential foreign exchange (FX) measures been effective in promoting exchange rate stability? We tackle this question by studying a panel of 25 countries/currencies from July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2011. We calculate daily measures of exchange rate volatility, absolute crash risk, and tail risk implied in currency option prices, and we construct indices of capital controls and prudential FX measures taking into account the exact date when policy changes are implemented. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we find evidence that (i) tightening controls on non-residents suppresses daily exchange rate fluctuations at the cost of increasing the frequency of outliers, (ii) easing controls on residents truly improves exchange rate stability over all dimensions, and (iii) tightening prudential FX measures not specific to derivative markets reduces absolute crash risk and tail risk, with no effect on volatility.
This paper provides a historical overview on financial crises and their origins. The objective is to discuss a few of the modern statistical methods that can be used to evaluate predictors of these rare events. The problem involves prediction of binary events and therefore fits modern statistical learning, signal processing theory, and classification methods. The discussion also emphasizes the need to supplement statistics and computational techniques with economics. A forecast’s success in this environment hinges on the economic consequences of the actions taken as a result of the forecast, rather than on typical statistical metrics of prediction accuracy.
Obtaining monetary policy expectations from the yield curve is difficult near the zero lower bound (ZLB). Standard dynamic term structure models, which ignore the ZLB, can be misleading. Shadow-rate models are better suited for this purpose, because they account for the distributional asymmetry in projected short rates induced by the ZLB. Besides providing better interest rate fit and forecasts, our shadow-rate models deliver estimates of the future monetary policy liftoff from the ZLB that are closer to survey expectations. We also document significant improvements for inference about monetary policy expectations when macroeconomic factors are included in the term structure model.
We evaluate the effects of state-provided financial incentives for biotech companies, which are part of a growing trend of placed-based policies designed to spur innovation clusters. We estimate that the adoption of subsidies for biotech employers by a state raises the number of star biotech scientists in that state by about 15 percent over a three year period. A 10% decline in the user cost of capital induced by an increase in R&D tax incentives raises the number of stars by 22%. Most of the gains are due to the relocation of star scientist to adopting states, with limited effect on the productivity of incumbent scientists already in the state. The gains are concentrated among private sector inventors. We uncover little effect of subsidies on academic researchers, consistent with the fact that their incentives are unaffected. Our estimates indicate that the effect on overall employment in the biotech sector is of comparable magnitude to that on star scientists. Consistent with a model where workers are fairly mobile across states, we find limited effects on salaries in the industry. We uncover large effects on employment in the non-traded sector due to a sizable multiplier effect, with the largest impact on employment in construction and retail. Finally, we find limited evidence of a displacement effect on states that are geographically close, or states that economically close as measured by migration flows.
We examine how state governments adjusted spending in response to the large temporary increase in federal grants under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). We concentrate our analysis on ARRA highway grants, which were especially likely to crowd out states’ own highway funding given the lack of matching requirements and according to past research on federal highway grants. The mechanism used to apportion ARRA highway grants to states allows us to isolate exogenous changes in these grants. In addition, we show that the original 1944 proposed layout of the interstate highway system strongly predicts the cross-state distribution of the ARRA highway grants and we use this layout as an alternative instrument. We find that states increased highway spending in 2010 nearly dollar-for-dollar with their apportioned grants, implying little if any crowd-out. Moreover, we find that over the entire 2009-2011 period, ARRA highway grants crowded in highway spending, resulting in roughly two dollars in spending for each dollar in grants. We show that our results are not unique to the ARRA period, but rather are consistent with a strong effect from grants dating back at least to the early 1980s. This latter result contrasts with earlier research (Knight 2002) and we document the sources of the difference.
This paper examines the implications of uncertainty about the effects of monetary policy for optimal monetary policy with an application to the current situation. Using a stylized macroeconomic model, I derive optimal policies under uncertainty for both conventional and unconventional monetary policies. According to an estimated version of this model, the U.S. economy is currently suffering from a large and persistent adverse demand shock. Optimal monetary policy absent uncertainty would quickly restore real GDP close to its potential level and allow the inflation rate to rise temporarily above the longer-run target. By contrast, the optimal policy under uncertainty is more muted in its response. As a result, output and inflation return to target levels only gradually. This analysis highlights three important insights for monetary policy under uncertainty. First, even in the presence of considerable uncertainty about the effects of monetary policy, the optimal policy nevertheless responds strongly to shocks: uncertainty does not imply inaction. Second, one cannot simply look at point forecasts and judge whether policy is optimal. Indeed, once one recognizes uncertainty, some moderation in monetary policy may well be optimal. Third, in the context of multiple policy instruments, the optimal strategy is to rely on the instrument associated with the least uncertainty and use alternative, more uncertain instruments only when the least uncertain instrument is employed to its fullest extent possible.
We show that bank linkages have a positive effect on international trade. We construct the global banking network (GBN) at the bank level, using individual syndicated loan data from Loan Analytics for 1990-2007. We compute network distance between bank pairs and aggregate it to country pairs as a measure of bank linkages between countries. We use data on bilateral trade from IMF DOTS as the subject of our analysis and data on bilateral bank lending from BIS locational data to control for financial integration and financial flows. Using gravity approach to modeling trade with country-pair and year fixed effects, we find that new connections between banks in a given country-pair lead to an increase in trade flow in the following year, even after controlling for the stock and flow of bank lending between the two countries. We conjecture that the mechanism for this effect is that bank linkages reduce the risk exporters face and present four sets of results that supports this conjecture.
A large body of past research, looking across countries, states, and metropolitan areas, has found positive and statistically significant associations between income inequality and mortality. By contrast, in recent years more robust statistical methods using larger and richer data sources have generally pointed to little or no relationship between inequality and mortality. This paper aims both to document how methodological shortcomings tend to positively bias this statistical association and to advance this literature by estimating the inequality-mortality relationship. We use a comprehensive and rich new data set that combines U.S. county-level data for 1990 and 2000 on age-race-gender-specific mortality rates, a rich set of observable covariates, and previously unused Census data on local income inequality (Gini index and three income percentile ratios). Using panel data estimation techniques, we find evidence of a statistically significant negative relationship between mortality and inequality. This finding that increased inequality is associated with declines in mortality at the county level suggests a change in course for the literature. In particular, the emphasis to date on the potential psychosocial and resource allocation costs associated with higher inequality is likely missing important offsetting positives that may dominate.
This paper presents empirical evidence on asset market linkages between China and Asia and how these linkages have shifted during and after the global financial crisis of 2008-2009. We find only weak cross-country linkages in longer-term interest rates, but much stronger linkages in equity markets. This finding is consistent with the greater development and liberalization of equity markets relative to bond markets in China, as well as increasing business and trade linkages in the region. We also find that the strength of the correlation of equity prices changes between China and other Asia countries increased markedly during the crisis and has remained high in recent years. We attribute this development to greater “attentiveness” of international investors to China’s role as a source and destination of equity finance during the crisis rather than to any greater financial deepening and liberalization, as China did not implement any major policy measures during this period. By contrast, the transmission of U.S. equity returns to Asian countries decreased after the crisis.
We examine the effects of unconventional and conventional monetary policy announcements on the value of the dollar using high-frequency intraday data. Identifying monetary policy surprises from changes in interest rate futures prices in narrow windows around policy announcements, we find that surprise easings in monetary policy since the crisis began have had significant effects on the value of the dollar. We document that these changes are comparable to the effects of conventional policy changes prior to the crisis.
The recovery from the recent global financial crisis exhibited a decline in the synchronization of Asian output with the rest of the world. However, a simple model based on output gaps demonstrates that the decline in business cycle synchronization during the recovery from the global financial crisis was exceptionally steep by historical standards. We posit two potential reasons for this exceptionally steep decline: First, financial markets during this recovery improved from particularly distressed conditions relative to previous downturns. Second, monetary policy during the recovery from the crisis was constrained in western economies by the zero bound, but less so in Asia. To test these potential explanations, we examine the implications of an increase in corporate bond spreads similar to that which took place during the recent European financial crisis in a 3‐region open‐economy DSGE model. Our results confirm that global business cycle synchronization is reduced when zero‐bound constraints across the world differ. However, we find that the impact of reduced financial contagion actually goes modestly against our predictions.
In response to the Great Recession and sustained labor market downturn, the availability of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits was extended to new historical highs in the United States, up to 99 weeks as of late 2009 into 2012. We exploit variation in the timing and size of UI benefit extensions across states to estimate the overall impact of these extensions on unemployment duration, comparing the experience with the prior extension of benefits (up to 72 weeks) during the much milder downturn in the early 2000s. Using monthly matched individual data from the U.S. Current Population Survey (CPS) for the periods 2000-2005 and 2007-2012, we estimate the effects of UI extensions on unemployment transitions and duration. We rely on individual variation in benefit availability based on the duration of unemployment spells and the length of UI benefits available in the state and month, conditional on state economic conditions and individual characteristics. We find a small but statistically significant reduction in the unemployment exit rate and a small increase in the expected duration of unemployment arising from both sets of UI extensions. The effect on exits and duration is primarily due to a reduction in exits from the labor force rather than a decrease in exits to employment (the job finding rate). The magnitude of the overall effect on exits and duration is similar across the two episodes of benefit extensions. Although the overall effect of UI extensions on exits from unemployment is small, it implies a substantial effect of extended benefits on the steady-state share of unemployment in the cross-section that is long-term.In response to the Great Recession and sustained labor market downturn, the availability of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits was extended to new historical highs in the United States, up to 99 weeks as of late 2009 into 2012. We exploit variation in the timing and size of UI benefit extensions across states to estimate the overall impact of these extensions on unemployment duration, comparing the experience with the prior extension of benefits (up to 72 weeks) during the much milder downturn in the early 2000s. Using monthly matched individual data from the U.S. Current Population Survey (CPS) for the periods 2000-2005 and 2007-2012, we estimate the effects of UI extensions on unemployment transitions and duration. We rely on individual variation in benefit availability based on the duration of unemployment spells and the length of UI benefits available in the state and month, conditional on state economic conditions and individual characteristics. We find a small but statistically significant reduction in the unemployment exit rate and a small increase in the expected duration of unemployment arising from both sets of UI extensions. The effect on exits and duration is primarily due to a reduction in exits from the labor force rather than a decrease in exits to employment (the job finding rate). The magnitude of the overall effect on exits and duration is similar across the two episodes of benefit extensions. Although the overall effect of UI extensions on exits from unemployment is small, it implies a substantial effect of extended benefits on the steady-state share of unemployment in the cross-section that is long-term.
We show that the existence of downward nominal wage rigidities bends the short-run wage Phillips curve. We introduce a model of monetary policy with downward nominal wage rigidities and show that both the slope and curvature of the Phillips curve depend on the level of inflation and the extent of downward nominal wage rigidities. This is true for the both the long-run and the short-run Phillips curve. Comparing simulation results from the model with data on U.S. wage changes since the onset of the Great Recession, we show that downward nominal wage rigidities have likely played a role in shaping the dynamics of unemployment and wage growth from 2006 through 2012.
Standard Gaussian affine dynamic term structure models do not rule out negative nominal interest rates — a conspicuous defect with yields near zero in many countries. Alternative shadow-rate models, which respect the nonlinearity at the zero lower bound, have been rarely used because of the extreme computational burden of their estimation. However, by valuing the call option on negative shadow yields, we provide the first estimates of a three-factor shadow-rate model. We validate our option-based results by closely matching them using a simulation-based approach. We also show that the shadow short rate is sensitive to model fit and specification.
Regional inequality in China appears to be persistent and even growing in the last two decades. We study potential explanations for this phenomenon. After making adjustments for the difference in the cost of living across provinces, we find that some of the inequality in real wages could be attributed to differences in quality of labor, industry composition, labor supply elasticities, and geographical location of provinces. These factors, taken together, explain about half of the cross-province real wage difference. Interestingly, we find that inter-province redistribution did not help offset regional inequality during our sample period. We also demonstrate that inter-province migration, while driven in part by levels and changes in wage differences across provinces, does not offset these differences. These results imply that cross-province labor market mobility in China is still limited, which contributes to the persistence of cross-province wage differences.
Conventional analyses of cyclical fluctuations in the labor market ascribe a minor role to the labor force participation margin. In contrast, a flows-based decomposition of the variation in labor market stocks reveals that transitions at the participation margin account for around one-third of the cyclical variation in the unemployment rate. This result is robust to adjustments of data for spurious transitions, and for time aggregation. Inferences from conventional, stocks-based analyses of labor force participation are shown to be subject to a stock-flow fallacy, neglecting the offsetting forces of worker flows that underlie the modest cyclicality of the participation rate. A novel analysis of history dependence in worker flows demonstrates that a large part of the contribution of the participation margin can be traced to cyclical fluctuations in the composition of the unemployed by labor market attachment.
We examine how the confluence of competition and upstream innovation influences downstream firms’ profit-maximizing strategies. In particular, we analyze how, in light of these forces, the downstream firm sets the price of the product over its life cycle. We focus on personal computers (PCs) and introduce two novel data sets that describe prices and sales in the industry. Our main result is that a vintage-capital model that combines a competitive market structure with a rapid rate of innovation is well able to explain the observed paths of prices, as well as sales and consumer income, over a typical PC’s product cycle. The analysis implies that rapid price declines are not caused by upstream innovation alone, but rather by the combination of upstream innovation and a competitive environment.
We investigate the behavior of the equilibrium price-rent ratio for housing in a standard asset pricing model and compare the model predictions to empirical evidence from surveys on the return expectations of real-world housing investors. We allow for time-varying risk aversion (via external habit formation) and time-varying persistence and volatility in the stochastic process for rent growth, consistent with U.S. data for the period 1960 to 2011. Under fully-rational expectations, the model significantly underpredicts the volatility of the U.S. price-rent ratio for reasonable levels of risk aversion. We demonstrate that the model can approximately match the volatility of the price-rent ratio in the data if near-rational agents continually update their estimates for the mean, persistence and volatility of fundamental rent growth using only recent data (i.e., the past 4 years), or if agents employ a simple moving-average forecast rule for the price-rent ratio that places a large weight on the most recent observation. These two versions of the model can be distinguished by their predictions for the correlation between expected future returns on housing and the price-rent ratio. Only the moving-average model predicts a positive correlation such that agents tend to expect higher future returns when prices are high relative to fundamentals – a feature that is consistent with a wide variety of survey evidence from real estate and stock markets.
This paper proposes a simple method to structurally estimate a model over a period of time containing a regime shift. It then evaluates to which degree it is relevant to explicitly acknowledge the break in the estimation procedure. We apply our method on Swedish data, and estimate a DSGE model explicitly taking into account the monetary regime change in 1993, from exchange rate targeting to inflation targeting. We show that ignoring the break in the estimation leads to spurious estimates of model parameters including parameters in both policy and non-policy economic relations. Accounting for the regime change suggests that monetary policy reacted strongly to exchange rate movements in the first regime, and mostly to inflation in the second. The sources of business cycle fluctuations and their transmission mechanism are significantly affected by the exchange rate regime.
We estimate a DSGE model where rare large shocks can occur, by replacing the commonly used Gaussian assumption with a Student-t distribution. Results from the Smets and Wouters (2007) model estimated on the usual set of macroeconomic time series over the 1964-2011 period indicate that the Student-t specification is strongly favored by the data even when we allow for low-frequency variation in the volatility of the shocks, and that the estimated degrees of freedom are quite low for several shocks that drive U.S. business cycles, implying an important role for rare large shocks. This result holds even if we exclude the Great Recession period from the sample. We also show that inference about low-frequency changes in volatility and in particular, inference about the magnitude of the Great Moderation is different once we allow for fat tails.
Medical-care expenditures have been rising rapidly, accounting for almost one-fifth of GDP in 2009. In this study, we assess the sources of the rising medical-care expenditures in the commercial sector. We employ a novel framework for decomposing expenditure growth into four components at the disease level: service price growth, service utilization growth, treated disease prevalence growth, and demographic shift. The decomposition shows that growth in prices and treated prevalence are the primary drivers of medical-care expenditure growth over the 2003 to 2007 period. There was no growth in service utilization at the aggregate level over this period. Price and utilization growth were especially large for the treatment of malignant neoplasms. For many conditions, treated prevalence has shifted towards preventive treatment and away from treatment for late-stage illnesses.
A recent decline in internal migration in the United States may have been caused in part by falling house prices, through the “lock in” effects of financial constraints faced by households whose housing debt exceeds the market value of their home. I analyse the relationship between such “house lock” and the elevated levels and persistence of unemployment during the recent recession and its aftermath, using data for the years 2008-11. Because house lock is likely to extend job search in the local labour market for homeowners whose home value has declined, I focus on differences in unemployment duration between homeowners and renters across geographic areas differentiated by the severity of the decline in home prices. The empirical analyses rely on microdata from the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) files and an econometric method that enables the estimation of individual and aggregate covariate effects on unemployment durations using repeated cross-section data. I do not uncover systematic evidence to support the house-lock hypothesis.
We document the shift in the Beveridge curve in the U.S. since the Great Recession. We argue that a decline in quits, the relatively poor performance of the construction sector, and the extension of unemployment insurance benefits have largely driven this shift. We then introduce a method to estimate fitted Beveridge curves for other OECD countries for which data on vacancies and employment by job tenure are available. We show that Portugal, Spain, and the U.K. also experienced rightward shifts in their Beveridge curves. Besides the U.S., these are among the countries with the highest house price and construction employment declines in our sample.
This paper develops a general-equilibrium production model of skill-biased technological change that approximates the dramatic upward shift in the share of total income going to the top decile of U.S. households since 1980. Under realistic assumptions, we show that all agents in the economy can benefit from the technology change, provided that the observed rise in U.S. redistributive transfers over this period is taken into account. We show that the increase in capital’s share of total income and the presence of capital-entrepreneurial skill complementarity are two key features that help support the wages of ordinary workers as the new technology diffuses.
We simulate the Federal Reserve second Large-Scale Asset Purchase program in a DSGE model with bond market segmentation estimated on U.S. data. GDP growth increases by less than a third of a percentage point and inflation barely changes relative to the absence of intervention. The key reasons behind our findings are small estimates for both the elasticity of the risk premium to the quantity of long-term debt and the degree of financial market segmentation. Absent the commitment to keep the nominal interest rate at its lower bound for an extended period, the effects of asset purchase programs would be even smaller.
This paper presents the Economic Security Index (ESI), a new, more comprehensive measure of economic insecurity. By combining data from multiple surveys, we create an integrated measure of volatility in available household resources, accounting for fluctuations in income and out-of pocket medical expenses, as well as financial wealth sufficient to buffer against these shocks. We find that insecurity has risen steadily since the mid-1980s for virtually all subgroups of Americans, albeit with cyclical ups and downs. We also find, however, that there is substantial disparity in the degree to which different groups are exposed to economic risk. As the ESI derives from a data-independent conceptual foundation, it can be measured using different data sources. We find that the degree and disparity by which insecurity has risen is robust across these sources.
We explore the role of foreclosure inventories in a model of housing supply. The foreclosure variable is necessary to account for the steep and sustained drop in new construction activity following the U.S. housing market bust beginning in 2006. There is modest evidence that local banking conditions play a role in determining housing starts. Even with state-level foreclosures and banking variables in the model, there is a sizeable post-2006 residual common to all states. We argue that, in addition to observable macro and local factors, housing starts in the Great Recession have been weighed down in part by aggregate uncertainty factors
This paper describes a real-time, quarterly growth-accounting database for the U.S. business sector. The data on inputs, including capital, are used to produce a quarterly series on total factor productivity (TFP). In addition, the dataset implements an adjustment for variations in factor utilization—labor effort and the workweek of capital. The utilization adjustment follows Basu, Fernald, and Kimball (BFK, 2006). Using relative prices and input/output information, the series are also decomposed into separate TFP and utilization-adjusted TFP series for equipment investment (including consumer durables) and “consumption” (defined as business output less equipment and consumer durables).
This paper makes four points about the recent dynamics of productivity and potential output. First, after accelerating in the mid-1990s, labor and total-factor productivity growth slowed after the early to mid 2000s. This slowdown preceded the Great Recession. Second, in contrast to some informal commentary, productivity performance during the Great Recession and early in the subsequent recovery was roughly in line with previous experience during deep recessions. In particular, the evidence suggests substantial labor and capital hoarding. During the recovery, measures of factor utilization fairly quickly rebounded, and TFP and labor productivity returned to their anemic mid-2000s trends. Third, a plausible benchmark for the slower pace of underlying technology along with demographic assumptions from the Congressional Budget Office imply steady-state GDP growth of just over 2 percent per year—lower than most estimates. Finally, during the recession and recovery, potential output grew even more slowly— reflecting especially the effect of weak investment on growth in capital input. Half or more of the shortfall of actual output relative to pre-recession estimates of the potential trend reflects a reduction in potential.
A flexible labor margin allows households to absorb shocks to asset values with changes in hours worked as well as changes in consumption. This ability to absorb shocks along both margins greatly alters the household’s attitudes toward risk, as shown by Swanson (2012). The present paper extends that analysis to the case of generalized recursive preferences, as in Epstein and Zin (1989) and Weil (1989), including multiplier preferences, as in Hansen and Sargent (2001). Understanding risk aversion for these preferences is especially important because they are the primary mechanism being used to bring macroeconomic models into closer agreement with asset pricing facts. Measures of risk aversion commonly used in the literature—including traditional, fixed-labor measures and Cobb-Douglas composite-good measures—show no stable relationship to the equity premium in a standard macroeconomic model, while the closed-form expressions derived in this paper match the equity premium closely. Thus, measuring risk aversion correctly—taking into account the household’s labor margin—is necessary for risk aversion to correspond to asset prices in the model.
We assess the importance of interpersonal income comparisons using data on suicide deaths. We examine whether suicide risk is related to others’ income, holding own income and other individual and environmental factors fixed. We estimate models of the suicide hazard using two independent data sets: (1) the National Longitudinal Mortality Study and (2) the National Center for Health Statistics’ Multiple Cause of Death Files combined with the 5 percent Public Use Micro Sample of the 1990 decennial census. Results from both data sources show that, controlling for own income and individual characteristics, individual suicide risk rises with others’ income.
Transportation spending often plays a prominent role in government efforts to stimulate the economy during downturns. Yet, despite the frequent use of transportation spending as a form of fiscal stimulus, there is little known about its short- or medium-run effectiveness. Does it translate quickly into higher employment and economic activity or does it impact the economy only slowly over time? This paper reviews the empirical findings in the literature for the United States and other developed economies and compares the effects of transportation spending to those of other types of government spending.
Long half-lives of real exchange rates are often used as evidence against monetary sticky price models. In this study we show how exchange rate regimes alter the long-run dynamics and half-life of the real exchange rate, and we recast the classic defense of such models by Mussa (1986) from an argument based on short-run volatility to one based on long-run dynamics. The first key result is that the extremely persistent real exchange rate found commonly in post Bretton Woods data does not apply to the preceding fixed exchange rate period in our sample, where the half-live was roughly half as large. This result suggests a reinterpretation of Mussa’s original finding, indicating that up to two thirds of the rise in variance of the real exchange rate in the recent floating rate period is actually due to the rise in persistence of the response to shocks, rather than due to a rise in the variance of shocks themselves. This result also suggests a way to resolve the “PPP puzzle,” reconciling real exchange rate persistence with volatility. The second key result explains the rise in persistence over time by identifying underlying shocks using a panel VECM model. Shocks to the nominal exchange rate induce more persistent real exchange rate responses compared to price shocks, and these shocks became more prevalent under a flexible exchange rate regime.
We examine optimal monetary policy under prevailing Chinese policies – including capital controls, nominal exchange rate targets, and costly sterilization of foreign capital inflows. China’s combination of capital controls and exchange rate pegs disrupts its monetary policy, precluding adjustments that could maintain macroeconomic stability following a set of shocks that mirror its experience during the global financial crisis. However, comparing different policy regimes in a consistent DSGE framework, we find that the bulk of welfare gains achieved under full liberalization can be obtained by liberalizing either the capital account or the exchange rate.
Previous research has established that the Federal Reserve’s large scale asset purchases (LSAPs) significantly influenced international bond yields. We use dynamic term structure models to uncover to what extent signaling and portfolio balance channels caused these declined. For the U.S. and Canada, the evidence supports the view that LSAPs had substantial signaling effects. For Australian and German yields, signaling effects were more moderate and portfolio balance effects likely played a larger role. Both signaling and portfolio balance effects were small for Japanese yields. Our conclusions regarding the empirical importance of LSAP channels are consistent with predictions based on interest rate dynamics during normal times: Signaling effects tend to be large for countries with strong yield responses to conventional U.S. monetary policy surprises, and portfolio balance effects depend on the degree of substitutability across countries, measured using correlation between foreign and U.S. bond returns.
Progress on the question of whether policymakers should respond directly to financial variables requires a realistic economic model that captures the links between asset prices, credit expansion, and real economic activity. Standard DSGE models with fully-rational expectations have difficulty producing large swings in house prices and household debt that resemble the patterns observed in many industrial countries over the past decade. We show that the introduction of simple moving-average forecast rules for a subset of agents can significantly magnify the volatility and persistence of house prices and household debt relative to otherwise similar model with fully-rational expectations. We evaluate various policy actions that might be used to dampen the resulting excess volatility, including a direct response to house price growth or credit growth in the central bank’s interest rate rule, the imposition of a more restrictive loan-to-value ratio, and the use of a modified collateral constraint that takes into account the borrower’s wage income. Of these, we find that a debt-to-income type constraint is the most effective tool for dampening overall excess volatility in the model economy. While an interest-rate response to house price growth or credit growth can stabilize some economic variables, it can significantly magnify the volatility of others, particularly inflation.
We study the macroeconomic effects of uncertainty shocks in a DSGE model with labor search frictions and sticky prices. In contrast to a real business cycle model, the model with search frictions implies that uncertainty shocks reduce potential output, because a job match represents a long-term employment relation and heightened uncertainty reduces the value of a match. In the sticky-price equilibrium, an uncertainty shock–regardless of its source–consistently acts like an aggregate demand shock because it raises unemployment and lowers inflation. We present empirical evidence–based on a vector autoregression model and using a few alternative measures of uncertainty–that supports the theory’s prediction that uncertainty shocks are aggregate demand shocks
I introduce a method that combines data from the U.S. Current Population Survey, Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, and state-level Job Vacancy Surveys to construct annual estimates of the number of job openings in the U.S. in the Spring by industry and occupation. I present these estimates for 2005-2011. The results reveal that: (i) During the Great Recession job openings for all occupations declined. (ii) Job openings rates and vacancy yields vary a lot across occupations. (iii) Changes in the occupation mix of job openings and hires account for the bulk of the decline in measured aggregate match efficiency since 2007. (iv) The majority of job openings in all industries and occupations are filled with persons who previously did not work in the same industry or occupation.
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.
We use an arbitrage-free term structure model with spanned stochastic volatility to determine the value of the deflation protection option embedded in Treasury inflation-protected securities (TIPS). The model accurately prices the deflation protection option prior to the financial crisis when its value was near zero; at the peak of the crisis in late 2008 when deflationary concerns spiked sharply; and in the post-crisis period. During 2009, the average value of this option at the five-year maturity was 41 basis points on a par-yield basis.
We analyze the declines in government bond yields that followed the announcements of plans by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England to buy longer-term government debt. Using empirical dynamic term structure models, we decompose these declines into changes in expectations about future monetary policy and changes in term premiums. We find that declines in U.S. Treasury yields mainly reflected lower policy expectations, while declines in U.K. yields appeared to reflect reduced term premiums. Thus, the relative importance of the signaling and portfolio balance channels of quantitative easing may depend on market institutional structures and central bank communications policies.
This paper investigates the problem of constructing prediction regions for forecast trajectories 1 to H periods into the future ?a path forecast. We take the more general view that the null model is only approximative and in some cases it may be altogether unavailable. As a consequence, one cannot derive the usual analytic expressions nor resample from the null model as is usually done when bootstrap methods are used. The paper derives methods to construct approximate rectangular regions for simultaneous probability coverage which correct for serial correlation. The techniques appear to work well in simulations and in an application to the Greenbook path-forecasts of growth and inflation.
We examine the dynamic macroeconomic effects of public infrastructure investment both theoretically and empirically, using a novel data set we compiled on various highway spending measures. Relying on the institutional design of federal grant distributions among states, we construct a measure of government highway spending shocks that captures revisions in expectations about future government investment. We find that shocks to federal highway funding has a positive effect on local GDP both on impact and after 6 to 8 years, with the impact effect coming from shocks during (local) recessions. However, we find no permanent effect (as of 10 years after the shock). Similar impulse responses are found in a number of other macroeconomic variables. The transmission channel for these responses appears to be through initial funding leading to building, over several years, of public highway capital which then temporarily boosts private sector productivity and local demand. To help interpret these findings, we develop an open economy New Keynesian model with productive public capital in which regions are part of a monetary and fiscal union. We show that the presence of productive public capital in this model can yield impulse responses with the same qualitative pattern that we find empirically.
Using data from a 2006 survey of California high school economics classes, we assess the effects of teacher characteristics on student achievement. We estimate value-added models of outcomes on multiple choice and essay exams, with matched classroom pairs for each teacher enabling random-effects and fixed-effects estimation. The results show a substantial impact of specialized teacher experience and college-level coursework in economics. However, the latter is associated with higher scores on the multiple-choice test and lower scores on the essay test, suggesting that a portion of teachers’ content knowledge may be “lost in translation” when conveyed to their students.
The federal funds rate has been at the zero lower bound for over four years, since December 2008. According to many macroeconomic models, this should have greatly reduced the effectiveness of monetary policy and increased the efficacy of fiscal policy. However, standard macroeconomic theory also implies that private-sector decisions depend on the entire path of expected future short term interest rates, not just the current level of the overnight rate. Thus, interest rates with a year or more to maturity are arguably more relevant for the economy, and it is unclear to what extent those yields have been constrained. In this paper, we measure the effects of the zero lower bound on interest rates of any maturity by estimating the time-varying high-frequency sensitivity of those interest rates to macroeconomic announcements relative to a benchmark period in which the zero bound was not a concern. We find that yields on Treasury securities with a year or more to maturity were surprisingly responsive to news throughout 2008–10, suggesting that monetary and fiscal policy were likely to have been about as effective as usual during this period. Only beginning in late 2011 does the sensitivity of these yields to news fall closer to zero. We offer two explanations for our findings: First, until late 2011, market participants expected the funds rate to lift off from zero within about four quarters, minimizing the effects of the zero bound on medium and longer-term yields. Second, the Fed’s unconventional policy actions seem to have helped offset the effects of the zero bound on medium- and longer-term rates.
We combine questions from the Michigan Survey about the future path of prices, interest rates, and unemployment to investigate whether U.S. households are aware of the so-called Taylor (1993) rule. For comparison, we perform the same analysis using questions from the Survey of Professional Forecasters. Our findings support the view that some households form their expectations about the future path of interest rates, inflation, and unemployment in a way that is consistent with Taylor-type rules. The extent to which this happens, however, does not appear to be uniform across income and education levels. In particular, we find evidence that the relationship between unemployment and interest rates is not properly understood by households in the lowest income quartile, and by those with no high school diploma. We also find evidence that the perceived effect of unemployment on interest rates is asymmetric, being relevant only for interest-rate decreases. Finally, we argue that the relationships we uncover can be given a causal interpretation.
We present evidence on the effects of large-scale asset purchases by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England since 2008. We show that announcements about these purchases led to lower long-term interest rates and depreciations of the U.S. dollar and the British pound on announcement days, while commodity prices generally declined despite this more stimulative financial environment. We suggest that LSAP announcements likely involved signaling effects about future growth that led investors to downgrade their U.S. growth forecasts lowering longterm US yields, depreciating the value of the U.S. dollar, and triggering a decline in commodity prices. Moreover, our analysis illustrates the importance of controlling for market expectations when assessing these effects. We find that positive U.S. monetary surprises led to declines in commodity prices, even as long-term interest rates fell and the U.S. dollar depreciated. In contrast, on days of negative U.S. monetary surprises, i.e. when markets evidently believed that monetary policy was less stimulatory than expected, long-term yields, the value of the dollar, and commodity prices all tended to increase.
Since the end of the Great Recession in mid-2009, the unemployment rate has recovered slowly, falling by only one percentage point from its peak. We find that the lackluster labor market recovery can be traced in large part to weakness in aggregate demand; only a small part seems attributable to increases in labor market frictions. This continued labor market weakness has led to the highest level of long-term unemployment in the U.S. in the postwar period, and a blurring of the distinction between unemployment and nonparticipation. We show that flows from nonparticipation to unemployment are important for understanding the recent evolution of the duration distribution of unemployment. Simulations that account for these flows suggest that the U.S. labor market is unlikely to be subject to high levels of structural long-term unemployment after aggregate demand recovers.
This paper codifies in a systematic and transparent way a historical chronology of business cycle turning points for Spain reaching back to 1850 at annual frequency, and 1939 at monthly frequency. Such an exercise would be incomplete without assessing the new chronology itself and against others —this we do with modern statistical tools of signal detection theory. We also use these tools to determine which of several existing economic activity indexes provide a better signal on the underlying state of the economy. We conclude by evaluating candidate leading indicators and hence construct recession probability forecasts up to 12 months in the future.
This paper studies the role of credit in the business cycle, with a focus on private credit overhang. Based on a study of the universe of over 200 recession episodes in 14 advanced countries between 1870 and 2008, we document two key facts of the modern business cycle: financial-crisis recessions are more costly than normal recessions in terms of lost output; and for both types of recession, more credit-intensive expansions tend to be followed by deeper recessions and slower recoveries. In additional to unconditional analysis, we use local projection methods to condition on a broad set of macroeconomic controls and their lags. Then we study how past credit accumulation impacts the behavior of not only output but also other key macroeconomic variables such as investment, lending, interest rates, and inflation. The facts that we uncover lend support to the idea that financial factors play an important role in the modern business cycle.
We argue that positive co-movements between land prices and business investment are a driving force behind the broad impact of land-price dynamics on the macroeconomy. We develop an economic mechanism that captures the co-movements by incorporating two key features into a DSGE model: We introduce land as a collateral asset in firms’ credit constraints and we identify a shock that drives most of the observed fluctuations in land prices. Our estimates imply that these two features combine to generate an empirically important mechanism that amplifies and propagates macroeconomic fluctuations through the joint dynamics of land prices and business investment.
We study the interaction of borrower mortgage prepayment and mortgage delinquency during the period between 2001 and 2010. We show that when house prices flattened and began their subsequent decline, borrowers had increasingly slow prepayments and that this decline in prepayment rates roughly coincided with the sharp increase in their delinquency rates. Low credit score borrowers, in particular, display a pronounced negative correlation between default rates and prepayment rates. Shortfalls of actual prepayment rates from predicted rates based on an estimated prepayment model suggest that, in addition to the effects of declining house prices, tighter lending standards also may have played a role in weak prepayment activity.
We show that local house prices may be driven almost entirely by the demands of one identifiable group for several years and then by demands of another group at other times. We present evidence that house prices in Hawaii were subject to such regime shifts. Prices responded to demands associated with U.S. incomes and wealth for most years from 1975 through 2008. For about a decade starting in the middle of the 1980s, after the Japanese yen appreciated dramatically and Japanese housing and stock market wealth soared, however, house prices in Hawaii responded to Japanese incomes and wealth. Estimated models with these regime shifts outperformed conventional, constant coefficient models. The regime-shifting model helps explain why, when, and by how much the volatility and the elasticities of house prices in Hawaii with respect to the incomes and wealth of the U.S. and Japan varied over time
Using data from the Current Population Survey from 1980 through 2011 we examine what drives the variation and cyclicality of the growth rate of real wages over time. We employ a novel decomposition technique that allows us to divide the time series for median weekly earnings growth into the part associated with the wage growth of persons employed at the beginning and end of the period (the wage growth effect) and the part associated with changes in the composition of earners (the composition effect). The relative importance of these two effects varies widely over the business cycle. When the labor market is tight job switchers get large wage increases, making them account for half of the variation in median weekly earnings growth over our sample. Their wage growth, as well as that of job-stayers, is procyclical. During labor market downturns, this procyclicality is largely offset by the change in the composition of the workforce, leading aggregate real wages to be almost non-cyclical. Most of this composition effect works through the part-time employment margin. Remarkably, the unemployment margin neither accounts for much of the variation in nor much of the cyclicality of median weekly earnings growth.
A currency crisis is a speculative attack on the foreign exchange value of a currency, resulting in a sharp depreciation or forcing the authorities to sell foreign exchange reserves and raise domestic interest rates to defend the currency. This article discusses analytical models of the causes of currency and associated crises, presents basic measures of the incidence of crises, evaluates the accuracy of empirical models in predicting crises, and reviews work measuring the consequences of crises on the real economy. Currency crises have large measurable costs on the economy, but our ability to predict the timing and magnitude of crises is limited by our theoretical understanding of the complex interactions between macroeconomic fundamentals, investor expectations and government policy.
Previous research has emphasized the portfolio balance effects of Federal Reserve bond purchases, in which a reduced bond supply lowers term premia. In contrast, we find that such purchases have important signaling effects that lower expected future short-term interest rates. Our evidence comes from a model-free analysis and from dynamic term structure models that decompose declines in yields following Fed announcements into changes in risk premia and expected short rates. To overcome problems in measuring term premia, we consider bias-corrected model estimation and restricted risk price estimation. In comparison with other studies, our estimates of signaling effects are larger in magnitude and statistical significance.
This paper provides new estimates of the impact of monetary policy actions and macroeconomic news on the term structure of nominal interest rates. The key novelty is to parsimoniously capture the impact of news on all interest rates using a simple no-arbitrage model. The different types of news are analyzed in a common framework by recognizing their heterogeneity, which allows for a systematic comparison of their effects. This approach leads to novel empirical findings: First, the monetary policy substantially affects both short-term and long-term interest rates, and its effects do not die out with maturity. Second, macroeconomic data surprises have small and insignificant effects on far-ahead forward rates, consistent with conventional macroeconomic models. Third, the term-structure response to macroeconomic news is consistent with considerable interest-rate smoothing by the Federal Reserve. Fourth, monetary policy surprises are multidimensional while macroeconomic news is one-dimensional.
Analyzing university faculty and graduate student data for the top-ten U.S. economics departments between 1987 and 2007, we find that there are persistent differences in gender composition for both faculty and graduate students across institutions and that the share of female faculty and the share of women in the entering PhD class are positively correlated. We find, using instrumental variables analysis, robust evidence that this correlation is driven by the causal effect of the female faculty share on the gender composition of the entering PhD class. This result provides an explanation for persistent underrepresentation of women in economics, as well as for persistent segregation of women across academic fields.
While the global financial crisis was centered in the United States, it led to a surprising appreciation in the dollar, suggesting global dollar illiquidity. In response, the Federal Reserve partnered with other central banks to inject dollars into the international financial system. Empirical studies of the success of these efforts have yielded mixed results, in part because their timing is likely to be endogenous. In this paper, we examine the cross-sectional impact of these interventions. Theory consistent with dollar appreciation in the crisis suggests that their impact should be greater for countries that have greater exposure to the United States through trade and financial channels, less transparent holdings of dollar assets, and greater illiquidity difficulties. We examine these predictions for observed cross-sectional changes in CDS spreads, using a new proxy for innovations in perceived changes in sovereign risk based upon Google-search data. We find robust evidence that auctions of dollar assets by foreign central banks disproportionately benefited countries that were more exposed to the United States through either trade linkages or asset exposure. We obtain weaker results for differences in asset transparency or illiquidity. However, several of the important announcements concerning the international swap programs disproportionately benefited countries exhibiting greater asset opaqueness.
We provide cross-country evidence on the relative importance of cyclical and structural factors in explaining unemployment, including the sharp rise in U.S. long-term unemployment during the Great Recession of 2007-09. About 75% of the forecast error variance of unemployment is accounted for by cyclical factors–real GDP changes (Okun’s law), monetary and fiscal policies, and the uncertainty effects emphasized by Bloom (2009). Structural factors, which we measure using the dispersion of industry-level stock returns, account for the remaining 25%. For U.S. long-term unemployment the split between cyclical and structural factors is closer to 60-40, including during the Great Recession.
Yes. We analyze the economic benefit of Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) issuance by estimating the inflation risk premium that penalizes nominal Treasuries vis-a-vis TIPS and the cost derived from TIPS liquidity disadvantage. To account for the latter, we introduce a novel model-independent range for the liquidity premium in TIPS exploiting additional information from inflation swaps. We also adjust our model estimates for finite-sample bias. The resulting measure provides a lower bound to the benefit of TIPS, which is positive on average. Thus, our analysis suggests that the Treasury could save billions of dollars by significantly expanding its TIPS program.
How should monetary policy be conducted in the presence of endogenous feedback loops between asset prices, firms’ financial health, and economic activity? We reconsider this question in the context of the financial accelerator model and show that, when the level of natural output is inefficient, the optimal monetary policy under commitment leans considerably against movements in asset prices and risk premia. We demonstrate that an endogenous feedback loop is crucial for this result and that price stability is otherwise quasi-optimal absent this feature. We also show that the optimal policy can be closely approximated and implemented using a speed-limit rule that places a substantial weight on the growth of financial variables.
The importance of information asymmetries in the capital markets is commonly accepted as one of the main reasons for home bias in investment. We posit that effects of such asymmetries may be reduced through relationships between banks established through bank-to-bank lending and provide evidence to support this claim. To analyze dynamics of formation of such relationships during 1980-2009 time period, we construct a global banking network of 7938 banking institutions from 141 countries. We find that recessions and banking crises tend to have negative effects on the formation of new connections and that these effects are not the same for all countries or all banks. We also find that the global financial crisis of 2008-09 had a large negative impact on the formation of new relationships in the global banking network, especially by large banks that have been previously immune to effects of banking crises and recessions.
Data show that better creditor protection is correlated across countries with lower average stock market volatility. Moreover, countries with better creditor protection seem to have suffered lower decline in their stock market indexes during the current financial crisis. To explain this regularity, we use a Tobin q model of investment and show that stronger creditor protection increases the expected level and lowers the variance of stock prices in the presence of credit crunches. There are two main channels through which creditor protection enhances the performance of the stock market: (1) The credit-constrained stock price increases with better protection of creditors; (2) The probability of a credit crunch leading to a binding credit constraint falls with strong protection of creditors. We find strong empirical support for both predictions using data on stock market performance, amount and cost of credit, and creditor rights protection for 52 countries over the period 1980-2007. In particular, we find that crises are more frequent in countries with poor creditor protection. Using propensity score matching we also show that during crises stock market returns fall by more in countries with poor creditor protection.
The affine dynamic term structure model (DTSM) is the canonical empirical finance representation of the yield curve. However, the possibility that DTSM estimates may be distorted by small-sample bias has been largely ignored. We show that conventional estimates of DTSM coefficients are indeed severely biased, and this bias results in misleading estimates of expected future short-term interest rates and of long-maturity term premia. We provide a variety of bias-corrected estimates of affine DTSMs, both for maximally-flexible and over-identified specifications. Our estimates imply short rate expectations and term premia that are more plausible from a macro-finance perspective.
We document that trust in public institutions—and particularly trust in banks, business and government—has declined over recent years. U.S. time series evidence suggests that this partly reflects the pro-cyclical nature of trust in institutions. Cross-country comparisons reveal a clear legacy of the Great Recession, and those countries whose unemployment grew the most suffered the biggest loss in confidence in institutions, particularly in trust in government and the financial sector. Finally, analysis of several repeated cross-sections of confidence within U.S. states yields similar qualitative patterns, but much smaller magnitudes in response to state-specific shocks.
We construct probability forecasts for episodes of price deflation (i.e., a falling price level) using yields on nominal and real U.S. Treasury bonds. The deflation probability forecasts identify two “deflation scares” during the past decade: a mild one following the 2001 recession, and a more serious one starting in late 2008 with the deepening of the financial crisis. The estimated deflation probabilities are generally consistent with those from macroeconomic models and surveys of professional forecasters, but they also provide highfrequency insight into the views of financial market participants. The probabilities can also be used to price the deflation option embedded in real Treasury bonds.
A number of recent empirical studies have cast doubt on the “modernization theory” of democratization, which posits that increases in income are conducive to increases in democracy levels. This doubt stems mainly from the fact that while a strong positive correlation exists between income and democracy levels, the relationship disappears when one controls for country fixed effects. This raises the possibility that the correlation in the data reflects a third causal characteristic, such as institutional quality. In this paper, we reexamine the robustness of the income-democracy relationship. We extend the research on this topic in two imensions: first, we make use of newer income data, which allows for the construction of larger samples with more within-country observations. Second, we concentrate on panel estimation methods that explicitly allow for the fact that the primary measures of democracy are censored with substantial mass at the boundaries, or binary censored variables. Our results show that when one uses both the new income data available and a properly non linear estimator, a statistically significant positive income-democracy relationship is robust to the inclusion of country fixed effects.
This paper undertakes a modern event-study analysis of Operation Twist and compares its effects to those that should be expected for the recent quantitative policy announced by the Federal Reserve, dubbed “QE2″. We first show that Operation Twist and QE2 are similar in magnitude. We identify six significant, discrete announcements in the course of Operation Twist that potentially could have had a major effect on financial markets, and show that four did have statistically significant effects. The cumulative effect of these six announcements on longer-term Treasury yields is highly statistically significant but moderate, amounting to about 15 basis points. This estimate is consistent both with Modigliani and Sutch’s (1966) time series analysis and with the lower end of empirical estimates of Treasury supply effects in the literature.
This paper investigates how concentrated ownership of capital influences the pricing of risky assets in a production economy. The model is designed to approximate the skewed distribution of wealth and income in U.S. data. I show that concentrated ownership significantly magnifies the equity risk premium relative to an otherwise similar representative-agent economy because the capital owner’s consumption is more strongly linked to volatile dividends from equity. A temporary shock to the technology for producing new capital (an “investment shock”) causes dividend growth to be much more volatile than aggregate consumption growth, as in long-run U.S. data. The investment shock can also be interpreted as a depreciation shock, or more generally, a financial friction that affects the supply of new capital. Under power utility with a risk aversion coefficient of 3.5, the model can roughly match the first and second moments of key asset pricing variables in long-run U.S. data, including the historical equity risk premium. About one-half of the model equity premium is attributable to the investment shock while the other half is attributable to a standard productivity shock. On the macro side, the model performs reasonably well in matching the business cycle moments of aggregate variables, including the pro-cyclical movement of capital’s share of total income in U.S. data.
The wage premium for high-skilled workers in the United States, measured as the ratio of the 90th-to-10th percentiles from the wage distribution, increased by 20 percent from the 1970s to the late 1980s. A large literature has emerged to explain this phenomenon. A leading explanation is that skill-biased technolog- ical change (SBTC) increased the demand for skilled labor relative to unskilled labor. In a calibrated vintage capital model with heterogenous labor, this paper examines whether SBTC is likely to have been a major factor in driving up the wage premium. Our results suggest that the contribution of SBTC is very small, accounting for about 1/20th of the observed increase. By contrast, a gradual and very modest shift in the distribution of human capital across workers can easily account for the large observed increase in wage inequality.
The U.S. unemployment rate has remained stubbornly high since the 2007-2009 recession leading many to conclude that structural, rather than cyclical, factors are to blame. Relying on a standard job search and matching framework and empirical evidence from a wide array of labor market indicators, we examine whether the natural rate of unemployment has increased since the recession began, and if so, whether the underlying causes are transitory or persistent. Our analyses suggest that the natural rate has risen over the past several years, with our preferred estimate implying an increase from its pre-recession level of close to a percentage point. An assessment of the underlying factors responsible for this increase, including labor market mismatch, extended unemployment benefits, and uncertainty about overall economic conditions, implies that only a small fraction of this increase is likely to be persistent.
Financial globalization opened international capital markets to investors and firms all over the world. Foreign capital raisings by firms have increased substantially since the early 1990s in terms of equity as well as debt. I review the literature on the determinants and patterns of cross-border capital raisings and their effects on developments of domestic markets, highlighting the differences between mature and emerging economies. I focus on the effects the introduction of the euro had on European and global capital markets by bringing into existence a currency area comparable in size to that of the United States. Finally, I discuss the effects of financial crises on foreign capital raisings and review capital raisings during the 2007-09 global financial crisis.
This paper performs Bayesian estimation of affine Gaussian dynamic term structure models (DTSMs) in which the risk price parameters are restricted. A new econometric framework for DTSM estimation allows the researcher to select plausible constraints from a large set of restrictions, to correctly quantify statistical uncertainty, and to incorporate model uncertainty. The main empirical result is that under the restrictions favored by the data the expectations component, and not the term premium, accounts for the majority of high-frequency movements of long-term interest rates. At lower frequencies, term premia are counter-cyclical and more stable than implied by DTSMs without risk price restrictions.
We update Rose and Spiegel (2010a, b) and search for simple quantitative models of macroeconomic and financial indicators of the “Great Recession” of 2008-09. We use a cross-country approach and examine a number of potential causes that have been found to be successful indicators of crisis intensity by other scholars. We check a number of different indicators of crisis intensity, and a variety of different country samples. While countries with higher income and looser credit market regulation seemed to suffer worse crises, we find few clear reliable indicators in the pre-crisis data of the incidence of the Great Recession. Countries with current account surpluses seemed better insulated from slowdowns.
Before the recent recession, the consensus among researchers was that the zero lower bound (ZLB) probably would not pose a significant problem for monetary policy as long as a central bank aimed for an inflation rate of about 2 percent; some have even argued that an appreciably lower target inflation rate would pose no problems. This paper reexamines this consensus in the wake of the financial crisis, which has seen policy rates at their effective lower bound for more than two years in the United States and Japan and near zero in many other countries. We conduct our analysis using a set of structural and time series statistical models. We find that the decline in economic activity and interest rates in the United States has generally been well outside forecast confidence bands of many empirical macroeconomic models. In contrast, the decline in inflation has been less surprising. We identify a number of factors that help to account for the degree to which models were surprised by recent events. First, uncertainty about model parameters and latent variables, which were typically ignored in past research, significantly increases the probability of hitting the ZLB. Second, models that are based primarily on the Great Moderation period severely understate the incidence and severity of ZLB events. Third, the propagation mechanisms and shocks embedded in standard DSGE models appear to be insufficient to generate sustained periods of policy being stuck at the ZLB, such as we now observe. We conclude that past estimates of the incidence and effects of the ZLB were too low and suggest a need for a general reexamination of the empirical adequacy of standard models. In addition to this statistical analysis, we show that the ZLB probably had a first-order impact on macroeconomic outcomes in the United States. Finally, we analyze the use of asset purchases as an alternative monetary policy tool when short-term interest rates are constrained by the ZLB, and find that the Federal Reserve’s asset purchases have been effective at mitigating the economic costs of the ZLB. In particular, model simulations indicate that the past and projected expansion of the Federal Reserve’s securities holdings since late 2008 will lower the unemployment rate, relative to what it would have been absent the purchases, by 1-1/2 percentage points by 2012. In addition, we find that the asset purchases have probably prevented the U.S. economy from falling into deflation.
The negative relationship between the unemployment rate and the job openings rate, known as the Beveridge curve, has been relatively stable in the U.S. over the last decade. Since the summer of 2009, in spite of firms reporting more job openings, the U.S. unemployment rate has not declined in line with the Beveridge curve. We decompose the recent deviation from the Beveridge curve into different parts using data from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). We find that most of the current deviation from the Beveridge curve can be attributed to a shortfall in hires per vacancy. This shortfall is broad-based across all industries and is particularly pronounced in construction, transportation, trade, and utilities, and leisure and hospitality. Construction alone accounts for more than half of the Beveridge curve gap.
The passage of the 1996 welfare reform bill led to sweeping changes to the central U.S. cash safety net program for families with children. Importantly, along with other changes, the reform imposed lifetime time limits for receipt of welfare de facto ending the entitlement nature of cash welfare for poor families with children in the United States. Despite dire predictions about poverty and deprivation, the previous research shows that caseloads declined and employment increased, with no detectible increase in poverty or worsening of child-well-being. We re-evaluate these results in light of the severe recession which began in December 2007. In particular, we examine how the cyclicality of the response of program caseloads and family wellbeing has been altered by the implementation of welfare reform. We find that use of food stamps and non-cash safety net program participation have become significantly more responsive across economic cycles after welfare reform, going up more after reform when unemployment increases. By contrast, there is no evidence that cash welfare for families with children is more responsive after reform, and some evidence that it might be less so. There is some evidence that poverty increases more with the unemployment rate after reform (and no evidence that poverty increases less with unemployment after reform). We find that reform has led to no significant effects on the cyclical responsiveness of food consumption, food insecurity, health insurance, household crowding, or health.
Suicide is an important scientific phenomenon. Yet its causes remain poorly understood. This study documents a paradox: the happiest places have the highest suicide rates. The study combines findings from two large and rich individual-level data sets—one on life satisfaction and another on suicide deaths—to establish the paradox in a consistent way across U.S. states. It replicates the finding in data on Western industrialized nations and checks that the paradox is not an artifact of population composition or confounding factors. The study concludes with the conjecture that people may find it particularly painful to be unhappy in a happy place, so that the decision to commit suicide is influenced by relative comparisons.
Engel (2005) derives a theoretical variance inequality involving the change in equilibrium stock prices Var (?p) : Assuming that stock prices are “cum-dividend” and that investors are risk neutral, he shows that Var (?p) must be greater than or equal to the variance of the “perfect foresight” (or “ex post rational”) price change Var (?p*) ; where p* is computed from the discounted stream of subsequent realized dividends. This paper expands the analysis to consider “ex-divdend” prices and risk aversion in a standard Lucas-type asset pricing model. I show that the direction of the price-change variance inequality can be reversed, depending on the values assigned to some key parameters of the model, namely the dividend AR(1) parameter, the investor’s subjective time discount factor, and the coefficient of relative risk aversion. Overall, the results demonstrate that the present-value model of stock prices does not impose theoretical bounds on price-change volatility except in some special cases.
We explore the relationships between subjective well-being and income, as seen across individuals within a given country, between countries in a given year, and as a country grows through time. We show that richer individuals in a given country are more satisfied with their lives than are poorer individuals, and establish that this relationship is similar in most countries around the world. Turning to the relationship between countries, we show that average life satisfaction is higher in countries with greater GDP per capita. The magnitude of the satisfaction-income gradient is roughly the same whether we compare individuals or countries, suggesting that absolute income plays an important role in influencing well-being. Finally, studying changes in satisfaction over time, we find that as countries experience economic growth, their citizens‘ life satisfaction typically grows, and that those countries experiencing more rapid economic growth also tend to experience more rapid growth in life satisfaction. These results together suggest that measured subjective well-being grows hand in hand with material living standards.
Doubts about the accuracy with which outside investors can assess a banking firm’s value motivate many government interventions in the banking market. The recent financial crisis has reinforced concerns about the possibility that banks are unusually opaque. Yet the empirical evidence, thus far, is mixed. This paper examines the trading characteristics of bank shares over the period from January 1990 through September 2009. We find that bank share trading exhibits sharply different features before vs. during the crisis. Until mid-2007, large (NYSE-traded) banking firms appear to be no more opaque than a set of control firms, and smaller (NASD-traded) banks are, at most, slightly more opaque. During the crisis, however, both large and small banking firms exhibit a sharp increase in opacity, consistent with the policy interventions implemented at the time. Although portfolio composition is significantly related to market microstructure variables, no specific asset category(s) stand out as particularly important in determining bank opacity.
Foreign stock ownership is known to be very limited among households. Using the Survey of Consumer Finances, I show that information acquisition plays a major role in agents’ decisions to invest in foreign stocks. In particular, households that participate in foreign stock markets are better informed about their financial investment choices: they shop more for investment opportunities, update their investment portfolios more frequently, and use the Internet more often as a source of information. Households that invest in foreign stocks are also substantially wealthier and more educated. The paper considers a model that shows how information acquisition costs and fixed costs of entering a new market can affect investors’ decisions to buy foreign stocks. The model predictions match the two main features of the data: that foreign stock owners are scarce but better informed. Calibrating the model to match returns and volatility for the U.S. and foreign stocks, I show that even a small cost of entering a new market can explain the large degree of nonparticipation among households.
This paper studies the effects of Job Creation Tax Credits (JCTCs) enacted by U.S. states over the past 20 years. First, we investigate whether JCTCs stimulate within-state job growth. Second, we evaluate when JCTCs’ effects occur? In particular, we test for negative anticipation effects between JCTC enactment and when legislation goes into effect. Third, we assess from where any increased employment comes from – in-state or out-of-state? These questions are investigated in an event study framework applied to monthly panel data on employment, the JCTC effective and legislative dates, and various controls.
This paper employs a standard asset pricing model to derive theoretical volatility measures for the price-dividend ratio, the real equity return, and the equity premium in a setting that allows for varying degrees of investor information about future dividends. For reasonable levels of risk aversion, we show that the model can match the observed volatility in long-run U.S. stock market data if investors can accurately foresee future dividends. The variance of the model price-dividend ratio increases monotonically with investor information about future dividends whereas the relationship between equity return variance and information is non-monotonic. We also derive a theoretical variance decomposition for the fundamental price-dividend ratio and show that it differs in important ways from the data. Specifically, even though the model can account for observed stock market volatility, it does so by generating an implausibly volatile risk-free rate combined with an insufficiently predictable equity premium.
The degree of exchange-rate pass-through to import prices is low. An average passthrough estimate for the 1980s would be roughly 50 percent for the United States implying that, following a 10 percent depreciation of the dollar, a foreign exporter selling to the U.S. market would raise its price in the United States by 5 percent. Moreover, substantial evidence indicates that the degree of pass-through has since declined to about 30 percent. Gust, Leduc, and Vigfusson (2010) demonstrate that, in the presence of pricing complementarity, trade integration spurred by lower costs for importers can account for a significant portion of the decline in pass-through. In our framework, pass-through declines solely because of markup adjustments along the intensive margin. In this paper, we model how the entry and exit decisions of exporting firms affect pass-through. This is particularly important since the decline in pass-through has occurred as a greater concentration of foreign firms are exporting to the United States. We find that the effect of entry on pass-through is quantitatively small and is more than offset by the adjustment of markups that arise only along the intensive margin. Even though entry has a relatively small impact on pass-through, it nevertheless plays an important role in accounting for the secular rise in imports relative to GDP. In particular, our model suggests that over 3/4 of the rise in the U.S. import share since the early 1980s is due to trade in new goods. Thus, a key insight of this paper is that adjustment of markups that occur along the intensive margin are quantitatively more important in accounting for secular changes in pass-through than adjustments that occur along the extensive margin.
We argue that credit constraints not just amplify fundamental shocks, they can also lead to self-fulfilling business cycles. To make this point, we study a model in which productive firms are credit constrained, with credit limits determined by equity value. A drop in equity value tightens credit constraints and reallocates resources from productive to unproductive firms. This reallocation reduces aggregate productivity and further depresses equity value and further tightens credit constraints, generating a financial multiplier that amplifies the effects of fundamental shocks. At the aggregate level, credit externality manifests as increasing returns and thus can lead to self-fulfilling business cycles.
In this paper we demonstrate that private firms in China have more difficult access to external finance than state owned firms and argue that they make adjustments to reduce their demand for external funds. In particular, we show that private firms have lower levels of inventory and trade credit and that these levels decrease with the difficulty of obtaining external finance. Nevertheless, we find no evidence that these lower levels of inventory and trade credit lead to lower productivity or profitability.
This paper presents a model comparing the optimal degree of asset class diversification abroad by a central bank and a sovereign wealth fund. We show that if the central bank manages its foreign asset holdings in order to meet balance of payments needs, particularly in reducing the probability of sudden stops in foreign capital inflows, it will place a high weight on holding safer foreign assets. In contrast, if the sovereign wealth fund, acting on behalf of the Treasury, maximizes the expected utility of a representative domestic agent, it will opt for relatively greater holding of more risky foreign assets. We also show how the diversification differences between the strategies of the bank and SWF is affected by the government’s delegation of responsibilities and by various parameters of the economy, such as the volatility of equity returns and the total amount of public foreign assets available for management.
The paper models monetary policy in China using a hybrid McCallum-Taylor empirical reaction function. The feedback rule allows for reactions to inflation and output gaps, and to developments in a trade-weighted exchange rate gap measure. The investigation finds that monetary policy in China has, on average, accommodated inflationary developments. But exchange rate shocks do not significantly affect monetary policy behavior, and there is no evidence of a structural break in the estimated reaction function at the end of the strict dollar peg in July 2005. The paper also runs an exercise incorporating survey-based inflation expectations into the policy reaction function and meets with some success.
We derive aggregate growth-accounting implications for a two-sector economy with heterogeneous capital subsidies and monopoly power. In this economy, measures of total factor productivity (TFP) growth in terms of quantities (the primal) and real factor prices (the dual) can diverge from each other as well as from true technology growth. These distortions potentially give rise to dynamic reallocation effects that imply that change in technology needs to be measured from the bottom up rather than the top down. We show an example, for Singapore, of how incomplete data can be used to obtain estimates of aggregate and sectoral technology growth as well as reallocation e¤ects. We also apply our framework to reconcile divergent TFP estimates in Singapore and to resolve other empirical puzzles regarding Asian development.
This paper estimates the “jobs multiplier” of fiscal stimulus spending using the state-level allocations of federal stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. Because the level and timing of stimulus funds that a state receives was potentially endogenous, I exploit the fact that most of these funds were allocated according to exogenous formulary allocation factors such as the number of federal highway miles in a state or its youth share of population. Cross-state IV results indicate that ARRA spending in its first year yielded about eight jobs per million dollars spent, or $125,000 per job.
In the aftermath of WorldWar II, the world’s economies exhibited very different rates of economic recovery. We provide evidence that those countries that caught up the most with the U.S. in the postwar period are those that also saw an acceleration in the speed of adoption of new technologies. This acceleration is correlated with the incidence of U.S. economic aid and technical assistance in the same period. We interpret this as supportive of the interpretation that technology transfers from the U.S. to Western European countries and Japan were an important factor in driving growth in these recipient countries during the postwar decades.
We investigate the effectiveness of capital controls in insulating economies from currency crises, focusing in particular on both direct and indirect effects of capital controls and how these relationships may have changed over time in response to global financial liberalization and the greater mobility of international capital. We predict the likelihood of currency crises using standard macroeconomic variables and a probit equation estimation methodology with random effects. We employ a comprehensive panel data set comprised of 69 emerging market and developing economies over 1975-2004. Both standard and duration-adjusted measures of capital control intensity (allowing controls to “depreciate” over time) suggest that capital controls have not effectively insulated economies from currency crises at any time during our sample period. Maintaining real GDP growth and limiting real overvaluation are critical factors preventing currency crises, not capital controls. However, the presence of capital controls greatly increases the sensitivity of currency crises to changes in real GDP growth and real exchange rate overvaluation, making countries more vulnerable to changes in fundamentals. Our model suggests that emerging markets weathered the 2007-08 crisis relatively well because of strong output growth and exchange rate flexibility that limited overvaluation of their currencies.
The persistence of aggregate real exchange rates is a prominent puzzle, particularly since adjustment of international relative prices in microeconomic data is much faster. This paper finds that adjustment to the law of one price in disaggregated data is not just a faster version of the adjustment to purchasing power parity in the aggregate data; while aggregate real exchange rate adjustment works primarily through the foreign exchange market, adjustment in disaggregated data is a qualitatively distinct process, working through adjustment in local-currency goods prices. These distinct adjustment dynamics appear to arise from distinct classes of shocks generating macro and micro price deviations. A vector error correction model nesting aggregate and disaggregated relative prices permits identification of distinct macroeconomic and good-specific shocks. When half-lives are estimated conditional on shocks, the macro-micro disconnect puzzle disappears: microeconomic relative prices adjust to macro shocks just as slowly as do aggregate real exchange rates. These results provide evidence against theories of real exchange rate behavior based on sticky prices and on heterogeneity across goods.
This chapter studies optimal monetary stabilization policy in interdependent open economies, by proposing a unified analytical framework systematizing the existing literature. In the model, the combination of complete exchange-rate pass-through (`producer currency pricing’) and frictionless asset markets ensuring efficient risk sharing, results in a form of open-economy `divine coincidence’: in line with the prescriptions in the baseline New-Keynesian setting, the optimal monetary policy under cooperation is characterized by exclusively inward-looking targeting rules in domestic output gaps and GDP-deflator inflation. The chapter then examines deviations from this benchmark, when cross-country strategic policy interactions, incomplete exchange-rate pass-through (‘local currency pricing’) and asset market imperfections are accounted for. Namely, failure to internalize international monetary spillovers results in attempts to manipulate international relative prices to raise national welfare, causing inefficient real exchange rate fluctuations. Local currency pricing and incomplete asset markets (preventing efficient risk sharing) shift the focus of monetary stabilization to redressing domestic as well as external distortions: the targeting rules characterizing the optimal policy are not only in domestic output gaps and inflation, but also in misalignments in the terms of trade and real exchange rates, and cross-country demand imbalances.
What monetary policy framework, if adopted by the Federal Reserve, would have avoided the Great Inflation of the 1960s and 1970s? We use counterfactual simulations of an estimated model of the U.S. economy to evaluate alternative monetary policy strategies. We show that policies constructed using modern optimal control techniques aimed at stabilizing inflation, economic activity, and interest rates would have succeeded in achieving a high degree of economic stability as well as price stability only if the Federal Reserve had possessed excellent information regarding the structure of the economy or if it had acted as if it placed relatively low weight on stabilizing the real economy. Neither condition held true. We document that policymakers at the time both had an overly optimistic view of the natural rate of unemployment and put a high priority on achieving full employment. We show that in the presence of realistic informational imperfections and with an emphasis on stabilizing economic activity, an optimal control approach would have failed to keep inflation expectations well anchored, resulting in high and highly volatile inflation during the 1970s. Finally, we show that a strategy of following a robust first-difference policy rule would have been highly effective at stabilizing inflation and unemployment in the presence of informational imperfections. This robust monetary policy rule yields simulated outcomes that are close to those seen during the period of the Great Moderation starting in the mid-1980s.
This paper estimates the amount of tightening in bank commercial and industrial (C&I) loan rates during the financial crisis. After controlling for loan characteristics and bank fixed effects, as of 2010:Q1, the average C&I loan spread was 66 basis points or 23 percent above normal. From about 2005 to 2008, the loan spread averaged 23 basis points below normal. Thus, from the unusually loose lending conditions in 2007 to the much tighter conditions in 2010:Q1, the average loan spread increased by about 1 percentage point. I find that large and medium-sized banks tightened their loan rates more than small banks; while small banks tended to tighten less, they always charged more. Using loan size to proxy for bank-dependent borrowers, while small loans tend to have a higher spread than large loans, I find that small loans actually tightened less than large loans in both absolute and percentage terms. Hence, the results do not indicate that bank-dependent borrowers suffered more from bank tightening than large borrowers. The channels through which banks tightened loan rates include reducing the discounts on large loans and raising the risk premium on more risky loans. There also is evidence that noncommitment loans were priced significantly higher than commitment loans at the height of the liquidity shortfall in late 2007 and early 2008, but this premium dropped to zero following the introduction of emergency liquidity facilities by the Federal Reserve. In a cross section of banks, certain bank characteristics are found to have significant effects on loan prices, including loan portfolio quality, capital ratios, and the amount of unused loan commitments. These findings provide evidence on the supply-side effect of loan pricing.
This paper focuses on simple normative rules for monetary policy which central banks can use to guide their interest rate decisions. Such rules were first derived from research on empirical monetary models with rational expectations and sticky prices built in the 1970s and 1980s. During the past two decades substantial progress has been made in establishing that such rules are robust. They perform well with a variety of newer and more rigorous models and policy evaluation methods. Simple rules are also frequently more robust than fully optimal rules. Important progress has also been made in understanding how to adjust simple rules to deal with measurement error and expectations. Moreover, historical experience has shown that simple rules can work well in the real world in that macroeconomic performance has been better when central bank decisions were described by such rules. The recent financial crisis has not changed these conclusions, but it has stimulated important research on how policy rules should deal with asset bubbles and the zero bound on interest rates. Going forward the crisis has drawn attention to the importance of research on international monetary issues and on the implications of discretionary deviations from policy rules.
Using survey-based measures of future U.S. economic activity from the Livingston Survey and the Survey of Professional Forecasters, we study how changes in expectations, and their interaction with monetary policy, contribute to fluctuations in macroeconomic aggregates. We find that changes in expected future economic activity are a quantitatively important driver of economic fluctuations: a perception that good times are ahead typically leads to a significant rise in current measures of economic activity and inflation. We also find that the short-term interest rate rises in response to expectations of good times as monetary policy tightens. Our results provide quantitative evidence on the importance of expectations-driven business cycles and on the role that monetary policy plays in shaping them.
Over the years, U.S. banks have increasingly relied on the bond market to finance their business. This created the potential for a link between the bond market and the corporate sector whereby borrowers, including those that do not rely on bond funding, became exposed to the conditions in the bond market. We investigate the importance of this link. Our results show that when the cost to access the bond market goes up, banks that rely on bond financing charge higher interest rates on their loans. Banks that rely exclusively on deposit funding follow bond financing banks and increase the interest rates on their loans, though by smaller amounts. Further, banks pass the bond market shocks predominantly to their risky borrowers that have access to the bond market and to their borrowers that do not have access to the bond market. These results show that banks propagate shocks to the bond market by passing them through their loan policies to their borrowers, including those that do not use bond financing.
This paper documents the adjustment of the labor market during the recession, and places it in the broader context of previous postwar downturns. What emerges is a picture of labor market dynamics with three key recurring themes: 1. From the perspective of a wide range of labor market outcomes, the 2007 recession represents the deepest downturn in the labor market in the postwar era. 2. Until recently, the nature of labor market adjustment in the current recession has displayed a notable resemblance to that observed in past severe downturns. 3. During the latter half of 2009, however, the path of adjustment has exhibited important departures from that seen in prior deep recessions.
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).
Housing is an important component of the consumption basket. Since both rental prices and goods prices are sticky, the literature suggests that optimal monetary policy should stabilize both types of prices, with the optimal weight on rental inflation proportional to the housing expenditure share. In a two-sector DSGE model with sticky rental prices and goods prices, however, we find that the optimal weight on rental inflation in the Taylor rule is small–much smaller than that implied by the housing expenditure share. We show that the asymmetry in policy responses to rent inflation versus goods inflation stems from the asymmetry in factor intensity between the two sectors.
We examine the determinants of issuance of yen-denominated international bonds over the period from 1990 through 2010. This period was marked by low Japanese interest rates that led some investors to pursue \carry trades,” which consisted of funding investments in higher interest rate currencies with low interest rate, yen-denominated obligations. In principle, bond issuers that have exibility in their funding currency could also conduct a carry-trade strategy by funding in yen during this low interest rate period. We examine the characteristics of firms who appeared to have adopted this strategy using a data set containing almost 80,000 international bond issues. Our results suggest that there was a movement towards issuing in yen in the international bond markets starting in 2003, but this appears to have ended with the outbreak of the global financial crisis in 2007. Furthermore, the breakdown of carry-trade conditions in 2007 corresponds to a resurgence in the ability of economic fundamentals, such as the volume of trade with Japan, to explain the decision to issue international bonds denominated in yen.
We discover and document errors in public use microdata samples (“PUMS files”) of the 2000 Census, the 2003-2006 American Community Survey, and the 2004-2009 Current Population Survey. For women and men ages 65 and older, age- and sex-specific population estimates generated from the PUMS files differ by as much as 15% from counts in published data tables. Moreover, an analysis of labor force participation and marriage rates suggests the PUMS samples are not representative of the population at individual ages for those ages 65 and over.