Mauricio Ulate

Mauricio Ulate

Senior Economist

Macroeconomics, Monetary Economics, International Economics

Mauricio.Ulate (at) sf.frb.org

Profiles: Google Scholar | RePEc | Personal website

Working Papers
Regional Dissent: Do Local Economic Conditions Influence FOMC Votes?

2024-05 | with Bobrov and Kamdar | February 2024

abstract

U.S. monetary-policy decisions are made by the 12 voting members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). Seven of these members, coming from the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, inherently represent national-level interests. The remaining five members, a rotating group of presidents from the 12 Federal Reserve districts, come instead from sub-national jurisdictions. Does this structure have relevant implications for the monetary policy-making process? In this paper, we first build a panel dataset on economic activity across Fed districts. We then provide evidence that regional economic conditions influence the voting behavior of district presidents. Specifically, a regional unemployment rate that is one percentage point higher than the U.S. level is associated with an approximately nine percentage points higher probability of dissenting in favor of looser policy at the FOMC. This result is statistically significant, robust to different specifications, and indicates that the regional component in the structure of the FOMC could matter for monetary policy.

The Transmission of Negative Nominal Interest Rates in Finland

2023-11 | with Kwan and Voutilainen | April 2023

abstract

Despite the implementation of negative nominal interest rates by several advanced economies in the last decade and the many papers that have been written about this novel policy tool, there is still much we do not know about the effectiveness of this instrument. The pass-through of negative policy rates to loan rates is one of the main points of contention. In this paper, we analyze the pass-through of the ECB’s changes in the deposit facility rate to mortgage rates in Finland between 2005 and 2020. We use monthly data and three different empirical methodologies: correlational event studies, high-frequency identification, and exposure-measure regressions. We provide robust evidence that there continues to be pass-through of a cut in the policy rate to mortgage rates even when the policy rate is in negative territory, but that this pass-through is smaller than when the policy rate is in positive territory. The evidence in this paper contrasts with some previous studies and provides moments that can be useful to discipline theoretical negative-rates models.

Labor Market Effects of Global Supply Chain Disruptions

2023-08 | with Vasquez and Zarate | February 2023

abstract

We examine the labor market consequences of recent global supply chain disruptions induced by COVID-19. Specifically, we consider a temporary increase in international trade costs similar to the one observed during the pandemic and analyze its effects on labor market outcomes using a quantitative trade model with downward nominal wage rigidities. Even omitting any health related impacts of the pandemic, the increase in trade costs leads to a temporary but prolonged decline in U.S. labor force participation. However, there is a temporary increase in manufacturing employment as the United States is a net importer of manufactured goods, which become costlier to obtain from abroad. By contrast, service and agricultural employment experience temporary declines. Nominal frictions lead to temporary unemployment when the shock dissipates, but this depends on the degree of monetary accommodation. Overall, the shock results in a 0.14% welfare loss for the United States. The impact on labor force participation and welfare across countries varies depending on the initial degree of openness and sectoral deficits.

Making Sense of Negative Nominal Interest Rates

2022-12 | with Balloch and Koby | June 2022

abstract

Several advanced economies implemented negative nominal interest rates in the middle of the last decade, seeking to provide further monetary accommodation once cuts in positive territory had been exhausted. Negative rates affect banks in novel ways, mostly because during times of negative policy rates the interest rate that banks pay households on their deposits usually remains close to zero. In this review, we analyze the large literature that studies the impact of negative nominal interest rates, proceeding in four steps. First, we explain the theoretical channels through which negative rates affect banks. Second, we discuss the empirical findings about bank outcomes under negative rates. Third, we describe the aggregate transmission channels that influence the macroeconomic implications of a policy rate cut in negative territory. Finally, we compare the general-equilibrium models that have been used to quantify the effectiveness of negative rates and highlight why they have obtained mixed results. We conclude that, if properly implemented, negative rates are a valuable tool that central banks should not discard outright. However, negative rates can have quantifiable costs for the financial sector, and their effectiveness is likely to decline if implemented for long periods.

Trade with Nominal Rigidities: Understanding the Unemployment and Welfare Effects of the China Shock

2020-32 | with Rodrıguez-Clare and Vasquez | March 2022

abstract

We present a dynamic quantitative trade and migration model that incorporates downward nominal wage rigidities and show how this framework can generate changes in unemployment and labor participation that match those uncovered by the empirical literature studying the “China shock.” We find that the China shock leads to average welfare increases in most U.S. states, including many that experience unemployment during the transition. However, nominal rigidities reduce the overall U.S. gains by around one fourth. In addition, there are seven states that experience welfare losses in the presence of downward nominal wage rigidity that would have experienced gains without it.

Published Articles (Refereed Journals and Volumes)
Alternative Models of Interest Rate Pass-Through in Normal and Negative Territory

International Journal of Central Banking 17 (1), 2021, 3-34

abstract

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, many countries used low or negative policy rates to stimulate the economy. These policies gave rise to a rapidly growing literature that seeks to understand and quantify their impact. A fundamental step when studying the effectiveness of low and negative policy rates is to understand their transmission to loan and deposit rates. This paper proposes two models of pass-through from policy rates to loan and deposit rates that can match important stylized facts while remaining parsimonious. These models can be used to study the transition between positive and negative policy rates and to quantify the impact of negative rates on banks.

Going Negative at the Zero Lower Bound: The Effects of Negative Nominal Interest Rates

American Economic Review 111, 2021, 1-40

abstract

After the Great Recession several central banks started setting negative nominal interest rates in an expansionary attempt, but the effectiveness of this measure remains unclear. Negative rates can stimulate the economy by lowering the rates that commercial banks charge on loans, but they can also erode bank profitability by squeezing deposit spreads. This paper studies the effects of negative rates in a new DSGE model where banks intermediate the transmission of monetary policy. I use bank-level data to calibrate the model and find that monetary policy in negative territory is between 60% and 90% as effective as in positive territory.

The Cyclical Sensitivity in Estimates of Potential Output

Brookings Paper in Economic Activity 2018(Fall), Fall 2018, 343-411 | with Coibion and Gorodnichenko

abstract

The fact that declines in output since the Great Recession have been parlayed into equivalent declines in measures of potential output is commonly interpreted as implying that output will not return to previous trends. We show that real-time estimates of potential output for the United States and other countries respond gradually and similarly to both transitory and permanent shocks to output. Observing revisions in measures of potential output therefore tells us little about whether changes in actual output will be permanent. Some alternative methodologies to estimate potential output can avoid these shortcomings. These approaches suggest a much more limited decline in potential output since the Great Recession.

FRBSF Publications

Other Works
Is Inflation Just Around the Corner? The Phillips Curve and Global Inflationary Pressures

American Economic Association Papers and Proceedings 109, May 2019, 465-469 | with Coibion and Gorodnichenko

abstract

The length of the recovery since the Great Recession and the low reported levels of the unemployment rate in the U.S. are increasingly generating concerns about inflationary pressures. We document that an expectations-augmented Phillips curve can account for inflation not just in the U.S. but across a range of countries, once household or firm-level inflation expectations are used. Given this relationship, we can infer the dynamics of slack from the dynamics of inflation gaps and vice versa. We find that the implied slack was pushing inflation below expectations in the years after the Great Recession but the global and U.S. inflation gaps have shrunk in recent years thus suggesting tighter economic conditions. While we find no evidence that inflation is on the brink of rising, the sustained deflationary pressures following the Great Recession have abated.