Abstract: This paper uses a unique new data set to empirically examine bank-level expectations regarding the impact of negative short-term interest rates on bank profitability through net interest margins. The results show that banks differ significantly in their views regarding how profits might be affected in a negative interest rate environment and that much of this heterogeneity can be explained by cross-bank differences in the provision of liquidity services. We find that those banks that are more active in providing liquidity to borrowers anticipate suffering reduced profitability through declines in interest income on short-duration assets. The opposite is true of banks that are more active in providing liquidity to depositors as these banks expect to benefit form lower short-term funding costs. However, we find that these distributional effects wash out at the aggregate level, as liquidity provision is sufficiently well diversified across all banks.
Keywords: Banking conditions, net interest margins, unconventional monetary policy
Abstract: We propose an alternative approach for analyzing the competitive effects of common ownership: to directly analyze the weights that firms place on each others' profits rather than using measures of industry concentration (MHHI and GHHI). Analyzing weights has at least three advantages: it places fewer restrictions on the nature of competition, it requires less data to test, and it circumvents endogeneity concerns with concentration measures. We apply our approach to data from the banking industry, and our preliminary results mixed and overall rather muted. The sign of the competitive effect is sensitive to specification, and the effects we estimate are economically quite small. Firms upon which significant weight is placed - either by themselves or competitors - move very little in price or quantity distributions.
Keywords: Banking Competition, Common Ownership, GHHI, MHHI
Abstract: We present a new way of empirically evaluating various sticky price models used to assess the degree of monetary non-neutrality. While menu cost models uniformly predict that price change skewness and dispersion fall with inflation, in the Calvo model both rise. However, CPI price data from the late 1970's onwards shows that skewness does not fall with inflation, while dispersion does. We develop a random menu cost model that, with a menu cost distribution that has a strong Calvo feature, can match the empirical patterns found. The model therefore exhibits much more monetary non-neutrality than existing menu cost models.
Keywords: Inflation, Monetary policy, Prices, business fluctuations, and cycles
Abstract: This paper explores firm forecasting strategies. Using Italian data, we focus on two aspects of the forecasting process: how firms forecast sales and how accurate their predictions are. We relate both outcomes to current conditions, firm experience, global factors, and other firm characteristics. We find that current conditions tend to explain most of the variability in the sales forecast. While past projection errors tend to account for cross-firm differences in models of expectation formation, they are a key explanatory variable in models of forecast accuracy. Among other controls, firm size, experience, and global conditions--through the effect of price changes that the firm anticipates--shape firm expectations and influence the projection errors. Our findings suggest that models of sales expectations should take firm characteristics and market heterogeneity into account.
Keywords: Exporting, Forecast Accuracy, Sales Forecasting
Abstract: We examine both theoretically and empirically a mechanism through which outstanding bank loans affect the firm balance sheet channel of monetary policy transmission. Unlike other debt, most bank loans have floating rates mechanically tied to monetary policy rates. Hence, monetary policy-induced changes to floating rates affect the liquidity, balance sheet strength, and investment of financially constrained firms that use bank debt. We show that firms-especially financially constrained firms-with more unhedged bank debt display a stronger sensitivity of their stock price, cash holdings, sales, inventory, and fixed capital investment to monetary policy. This effect disappears when policy rates are at the zero lower bound, which further supports the floating rate mechanism and reveals a new limitation of unconventional monetary policy. We argue that the floating rate channel can have a significant macroeconomic effect due to the large size of the aggregate stock of unhedged floating-rate business debt, an effect that is at least as important as the bank lending channel that operates through new loans.
Keywords: monetary policy transmission, firm balance sheet channel, bank debt, floating inter- est rates, financial constraints, hedging
Abstract: This paper provides new evidence for cyclicality in the job-search effort of employed workers, on-the-job search (OJS) intensity, in the United States using American Time Use Survey and various cyclical indicators. We find that OJS intensity is countercyclical along both the extensive and intensive margins, with the countercyclicality of extensive margin stronger than the other. An increase in the layoffs rate and the deterioration in expectations about future personal financial situation are the primary factors that raise OJS intensity. Our findings suggest that the precautionary motive in the job search is a crucial driver of the countercyclicality in OJS intensity.
Keywords: On-the-job search, business cycles, labor flows, time use
Abstract: We estimate asset pricing models with multiple risks: long-run growth, long-run volatility, habit, and a residual. The Bayesian estimation accounts for the entire likelihood of consumption, dividends, and the price-dividend ratio. We find that the residual represents at least 80% of the variance of the price-dividend ratio. Moreover, the residual tracks most recognizable features of stock market history such as the 1990's boom and bust. Long run risks and habit contribute primarily in crises. The dominance of the residual comes from the low correlation between asset prices and consumption growth moments. We discuss theories which are consistent with our results.
Keywords: Bayesian Estimation, Equity Premium Puzzle, Excess Volatility, Habit, Long run risks, Particle Filter, Rare Disasters
Abstract: I compare the timing of information acquisition among institutional investors and sell-side analysts, and I show that hedge fund trades predict the direction of subsequent analyst ratings change reports while other investors' trades do not. In addition, hedge funds reverse trades after analyst reports, while other investors follow the analysts. Finally, I show that hedge funds perform best among stocks with high analyst coverage. These results suggest that hedge funds have superior information acquisition skills, and that analysts assist hedge funds in exploiting information acquisition advantages. These dynamics illustrate how hedge funds play an important role in information generation.
Keywords: Analysts, Hedge Funds, Information, Mutual Funds
Abstract: Using matched employee-employer US Census data, we examine the effect of a successful initial public offering (IPO) on employee departures to startups. Accounting for the endogeneity of a firm's choice to go public, we find strong evidence that going public induces employees to leave for start-ups. Moreover, we document that the increase in turnover following an IPO is driven by employees departing to start-ups; we find no change in the rate of employee departures for established firms. We present evidence that, following an IPO, many employees who received stock grants experience a positive shock to their wealth which allows them to better tolerate the risks associated with joining a startup or to obtain funding. Our results suggest that the recent declines in IPO activity and new firm creation in the US may be causally linked. The recent decline in IPOs means fewer workers may move to startups, decreasing overall new firm creation in the economy.
Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Initial Public Offerings, New Firms, Wealth
Abstract: The Basel Committee promulgates bank regulatory standards that many major economies enact to a significant extent. One element of the Basel III capital standards is a system of capital surcharges for global systemically important banks (G-SIBs). If the purpose of the surcharges is to ensure the survival of G-SIBs through serious crises (like the 2007-09 financial crisis) without extraordinary public assistance, our analysis suggests that current surcharges are too low because of three shortcomings: (1) the Basel system underestimates the probability that a GSIB can fail, (2) the Basel system fails to account for short-term funding, and (3) the Basel system excludes too many banks from current surcharges. Our best estimate suggests that the current surcharges should be between 225 and 525 basis points higher for G-SIBs that are not reliant on short-term funding; G-SIBs that are reliant on short-term funding should have even higher surcharges. Furthermore, we find that, even with significant confidence in the effectiveness of other Basel III reforms, modest increases in surcharges appear needed.
Keywords: Basel III, G-SIBs, G-SIFIs, bank capital, bank equity, bank regulation, banks
Gauging the Uncertainty of the Economic Outlook Using Historical Forecasting Errors: The Federal Reserve's Approach (PDF)
Abstract: Since November 2007, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the U.S. Federal Reserve has regularly published participants' qualitative assessments of the uncertainty attending their individual forecasts of real activity and inflation, expressed relative to that seen on average in the past. The benchmarks used for these historical comparisons are the average root mean squared forecast errors (RMSEs) made by various private and government forecasters over the past twenty years. This paper documents how these benchmarks are constructed and discusses some of their properties. We draw several conclusions. First, if past performance is a reasonable guide to future accuracy, considerable uncertainty surrounds all macroeconomic projections, including those of FOMC participants. Second, different forecasters have similar accuracy. Third, estimates of uncertainty about future real activity and interest rates are now considerably greater than prior to the financial crisis; in contrast, estimates of inflation accuracy have changed little. Finally, fan charts--constructed as plus-or-minus one RMSE intervals about the median FOMC forecast, under the expectation that future projection errors will be unbiased and symmetrically distributed, and that the intervals cover about 70 percent of possible outcomes--provide a reasonable approximation to future uncertainty, especially when viewed in conjunction with the FOMC's qualitative assessments. That said, an assumption of symmetry about the interest rate outlook is problematic if the expected path of the federal funds rate is expected to remain low.
Keywords: FOMC, Fan Charts, Forecasting, Uncertainty
Abstract: A large literature documents declining measures of business dynamism including high-growth young firm activity and job reallocation. A distinct literature describes a slowdown in the pace of aggregate labor productivity growth. We relate these patterns by studying changes in productivity growth from the late 1990s to the mid 2000s using firm-level data. We find that diminished allocative efficiency gains can account for the productivity slowdown in a manner that interacts with the within-firm productivity growth distribution. The evidence suggests that the decline in dynamism is reason for concern and sheds light on debates about the causes of slowing productivity growth.
Keywords: Job reallocation, Labor supply and demand, Productivity
Abstract: We propose a parsimonious semiparametric method for macroeconomic forecasting during episodes of sudden changes. Based on the notion of clustering and similarity, we partition the time series into blocks, search for the closest blocks to the most recent block of observations, and with the matched blocks we proceed to forecast. One possibility is to compare local means across blocks, which captures the idea of matching directional movements of a series. We show that our approach does particularly well during the Great Recession and for variables such as inflation, unemployment, and real personal income. When supplemented with information from housing prices, our method consistently outperforms parametric linear, nonlinear, univariate, and multivariate alternatives for the period 1990 - 2015.
Keywords: Forecasting, Great Recession, Nearest neighbor, Semiparametric methods
Abstract: The Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) has a dual-frame sample design that supplements a standard area-probability frame with a sample of observations drawn from statistical records derived from tax returns. The tax-based frame is stratified on the basis of a "wealth index" constructed largely from observed income flows, with the intent of heavily oversampling wealthy households. Although the SCF is not specifically designed to estimate wealth concentration, the design arguably provides sufficient support to enable such analysis with a reasonable level of credibility. Similar estimates may also be made by using tax-based data directly, as in , by using a construct very close to a key part of the SCF wealth index. Such an approach has appeal as a way of tapping a much larger set of information to improve SCF estimates. Not surprisingly, there are differences in the two approaches, largely as a result of conceptual differences or complications in the survey imp leme ntation. This paper focuses on the top 1 percent of the wealth distribution, the group most intensively covered by the SCF list sample and it explores the stability of the relationship between the patterns of concentration in the survey data and parallel patterns in tax-based estimates and considers how those patterns differ across survey participants, the full sample and the entire survey frame. In addition, the paper makes as series of recommendation for further research on the technical support of the survey.
Keywords: Nonresponse, Oversampling, Sampling, Skewed distributions, Wealth measurement
Abstract: This paper is a companion to our recent paper, "ICT Prices and ICT Services: What do they tell us about Productivity and Technology?" It provides the sources and methods used to construct national accounts-style price deflators for the major components of ICT investment--communications equipment, computer equipment, and software--that were presented and analyzed in that paper. The ICT equipment measures described herein were also used in Byrne, Fernald, and Reinsdorf (2016).
Keywords: ICT asset prices, Information and communication technology (ICT), Prices
Abstract: This paper reassesses the link between ICT prices, technology, and productivity. To understand how the ICT sector could come to the rescue of a whole economy, we introduce a simple model that sets out the steady-state contribution of the sector to the growth in U.S. labor productivity. The model extends Oulton (2012) to include ICT services (e.g., cloud computing) which has implications for the relationship between prices for ICT services and prices for the capital stocks (i.e., ICT assets) used to supply them. ICT asset prices are then put under a microscope, and offcial prices are found to substantially understate ICT price declines. And because ICT use continues to diffuse through the economy increasingly via cloud and related services which are not fully accounted for in the standard narrative on ICT's contribution to economic growth the contribution of ICT to growth in output per hour going forward is calibrated to be substantially larger than thought in the past.
Keywords: Productivity, computer software and internet services, high-performance computing, information and communications technology (ICT), prices, technology
Abstract: This paper proposes a novel link between the propagation of shocks within production networks and asset prices. It develops a dynamic network model in which the propagation of firm cash-flow shocks via inter-firm relationships affects the economy's equilibrium asset prices. When calibrated to match key features of customer-supplier networks in the United States, the model generates long-run risks, high and volatile risk premia, and a low and stable risk-free rate. Consistent with data from firms in manufacturing and service industries, the model predicts that central firms in the network command lower risk premiums than peripheral firms, and that firm-level return volatilities exhibit a high degree of co-movement.
Keywords: Equilibrium asset prices, Inter-firm relationships, Networks, Shock propagation
Abstract: Exploiting the heterogeneity in legal constraints on local bank employees' mobility, I show that access to local information influences banks' modes of expansion. Banks entering a new market typically establish new branches directly when interbank labor mobility is less restrictive but acquire incumbent branches otherwise. The treatment effect is strengthened when information asymmetries between local and entrants are severe. Furthermore, I find a surge in the total amount of local small business and mortgage loans granted, a higher mortgage approval rate, and a reduction of mortgage rates by surrounding incumbent branches, precisely around the period of entrants establishing new branches, which indicate intensified competition among banks.
Keywords: Credit market development, Labor mobility, Local information
Does Knowledge Protection Benefit Shareholders? Evidence from Stock Market Reaction and Firm Investment in Knowledge Assets (PDF)
Abstract: This paper studies whether knowledge protection affects shareholder value and firms' investment in knowledge assets using the staggered adoptions and rejections of the inevitable disclosure doctrine (IDD) by U.S. state courts as exogenous changes in the level of knowledge protection. We find positive (negative) abnormal stock returns around the IDD adoption (rejection) day for firms headquartered in the state and uncover a positive IDD treatment effect on firms' investment in knowledge assets. Moreover, the effects on stock returns and knowledge assets investment are stronger in more knowledge-oriented industries and firms. Finally, enhancing knowledge protection does not discourage local entrepreneurial activity.
Keywords: Inevitable Disclosure Doctrine, Investment in Knowledge Assets, Knowledge Protection, Shareholder Value
Abstract: We study the design of lender of last resort interventions and show that the provision of long-term liquidity incentivizes purchases of high-yield short-term securities by banks. Using a unique security-level data set, we find that the European Central Bank's three-year Long-Term Refinancing Operation incentivized Portuguese banks to purchase short-term domestic government bonds that could be pledged to obtain central bank liquidity. This "collateral trade" effect is large, as banks purchased short-term bonds equivalent to 8.4% of amount outstanding. The resumption of public debt issuance is consistent with a strategic reaction of the debt agency to the observed yield curve steepening.
Keywords: Lender of Last Resort, Sovereign Debt, Unconventional Monetary Policy
Minimum Wages and Consumer Credit: Impacts on Access to Credit and Traditional and High-Cost Borrowing (PDF)
Abstract: Proponents of minimum wage legislation point to its potential to raise earnings and lift families out of poverty, while opponents argue that disemployment effects lead to net welfare losses. But these arguments typically ignore the possibility that minimum wage policy has spillover effects on other aspects of households' financial circumstances. This paper examines how state-level minimum wage changes affect the decisions of lenders and low-income borrowers. Using data derived from direct mailings of credit offers, debt recorded in credit reports, and survey-reported usage of alternative credit products, we broadly find that when minimum wages rise, access to credit expands for lower-income households, who in turn, use more traditional credit and less high-cost alternatives. Specifically, for each $1 increase in the minimum wage, lower-income households receive 7 percent more credit card offers, with higher limits and improved terms. Further, there is a drop in usage o f high-cost borrowing: payday borrowing falls 40 percent. Finally, we find that borrowers are also better able to manage their debt: delinquency rates fall by 5 percent. Overall, our results suggest that minimum wage policy has positive spillover effects by relaxing borrowing constraints among lower income households.
Keywords: consumer debt, credit constraints, credit supply, delinquency, minimum wages, payday loans
Abstract: The widespread emergence of intangible technologies in recent decades may have significantly hurt output growth--even when these technologies replaced considerably less productive tangible technologies--because of structurally low interest rates caused by demographic forces. This insight is obtained in a model in which intangible capital cannot attract external finance, firms are credit constrained, and there is substantial dispersion in productivity. In a tangibles-intense economy with highly leveraged firms, low rates enable more borrowing and faster debt repayment, reduce misallocation, and increase aggregate output. An increase in the share of intangible capital in production reduces the borrowing capacity and increases the cash holdings of the corporate sector, which switches from being a net borrower to a net saver. In this intangibles-intense economy, the ability of firms to purchase intangible capital using retained earnings is impaired by low interest rates, be cause low rates increase the price of capital and slow down the accumulation of corporate savings.
Keywords: Borrowing Constraints, Capital Reallocation, Intangible Capital, Secular Stagnation
Abstract: While a rapidly growing body of research underscores the influence of social capital on financial decisions and economic developments, objective data-based measurements of social capital are lacking. We introduce average credit scores as an indicator of a community's social capital and present evidence that this measure is consistent with, but richer and more robust than, those used in the existing literature, such as electoral participation, blood donations, and survey-based measures. Merging unique proprietary credit score data with two nationwide representative household surveys, we show that households residing in communities with higher social capital are more likely to invest in stocks, even after controlling for a rich set of socioeconomic, preferential, neighborhood, and demographic characteristics. Notably, such a relationship is robustly observed only when social capital is measured using community average credit scores. Consistent with the notion that social capital and trust promote stock investment, we find the following: first, the association between average credit score and stock ownership is more pronounced among the lower educated; second, social capital levels of the county where one grew up appear to have a lasting influence on future stock investment; and third, investors who did not own stocks before have a greater chance of entering the stock market a few years after they relocate to higher-score communities.
Keywords: Credit scores, Social Capital, Stock market participation, Trust
Abstract: How should regulators design effective emergency lending facilities to mitigate stigma during a financial crisis? I explore this question using data from an unexpected disclosure of partial lists of banks that secretly borrowed from the lender of last resort during the Great Depression. I find evidence of stigma in that depositors withdrew more deposits from banks included on the lists in comparison with banks left off the lists. However, stigma dissipated for banks that were revealed earlier after subsequent banks were revealed. Overall, the results suggest that an emergency lending facility that never reveals bank identities would mitigate stigma.
Keywords: Great Depression, central bank, financial crisis, stigma
Abstract: Survey responses to quantitative financial questions frequently display strong patterns of heaping at round numbers. This paper uses two studies to examine variation in rounding across questions and by individual characteristics. Rounding was more common for respondents low in ability, for respondents low in motivation, and for more difficult questions, all consistent with theories of satisficing. Questions that require more difficult information retrieval and integration of information exhibit more heaping. The use of records, which lowers task difficulty, reduces rounding as well. Higher episodic memory is associated with less rounding, and standard measures of motivation are negatively associated with rounding. These relationships, along with the fact that longer response latencies are associated with less rounding, all support the idea that rounding is a manifestation of satisficing on open-ended financial questions. Rounding patterns also appear remarkably similar across the two studies, despite being fielded in different modes and employing different question order and wording.
Keywords: Consumer surveys, Data collection and estimation, Satisficing
Abstract: The Producer Price Index (PPI) for the United States suggests that semiconductor prices have barely been falling in recent years, a dramatic contrast to the rapid declines reported from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s. This slowdown in the rate of decline is puzzling in light of evidence that the performance of microprocessor units (MPUs) has continued to improve at a rapid pace. Over the course of the 2000s, the MPU prices posted by Intel, the dominant producer of MPUs, became much stickier over the chips' life cycle. As a result of this change, we argue that the matched-model methodology used in the PPI for MPUs likely started to be biased after the early 2000s and that hedonic indexes can provide a more accurate measure of price change since then. MPU prices fell rapidly through 2004 on every price measure we present, with the PPI declining at an even quicker pace than the hedonic indexes. However, from 2004 to 2009, our preferred hedonic index fell faster than the PPI, and from 2009 to 2013 the gap widened further, with our preferred index falling at an average annual rate of 42 percent, while the PPI declined at only a 6 percent rate. Given that MPUs currently represent about half of U.S. shipments of semiconductors, this difference has important implications for gauging the rate of innovation in the semiconductor sector.
Keywords: measurement, hedonic price index, quality adjustment, technological change, microprocessor
Abstract: Factor models are widely used in summarizing large datasets with few underlying latent factors and in building time series forecasting models for economic variables. In these models, the reduction of the predictors and the modeling and forecasting of the response y are carried out in two separate and independent phases. We introduce a potentially more attractive alternative, Sufficient Dimension Reduction (SDR), that summarizes x as it relates to y, so that all the information in the conditional distribution of y|x is preserved. We study the relationship between SDR and popular estimation methods, such as ordinary least squares (OLS), dynamic factor models (DFM), partial least squares (PLS) and RIDGE regression, and establish the connection and fundamental differences between the DFM and SDR frameworks. We show that SDR significantly reduces the dimension of widely used macroeconomic series data with one or two sufficient reductions delivering similar forecasting performance to that of competing methods in macro-forecasting.
Keywords: Diffusion Index, Dimension Reduction, Factor Models, Forecasting, Partial Least Squares, Principal Components
Abstract: This paper models the important role that repurchase agreements (repos) play in bond market intermediation. Not only do repos allow dealers to finance their activities, but they also increase dealers' ability to satisfy levered client demands without having to adjust their holdings of risky assets. In effect, the ability to borrow specific assets for delivery allows dealers to source large quantity of assets without taking ownership of them. Larger levered client orders imply larger asset borrowing demands, thus increasing the borrowing cost for the asset (i.e., repo specialness). Dealers pass on the higher intermediation cost to their clients in the form of higher bid-ask spreads. Although this method of intermediation is optimal, the use of repos significantly increases dealers' balance sheets. Limiting one dealer's balance sheet leverage, leaving all else equal, reduces the affected dealer's market making abilities and increases his bid-ask spreads. The equilibrium effect of limiting all dealers' balance sheet leverage on bid-ask spreads is unclear, and depends on the intensity of clients' demand and securities lenders' sensitivity to repo specialness.
Keywords: Market liquidity, Financial services and intermediation, Repo, Specialness, U.S. Treasury market
Household Incomes in Tax Data: Using Addresses to Move from Tax Unit to Household Income Distributions (PDF)
Abstract: Tax return data are increasingly the standard for tracking income statistics in the United States. However, these data have traditionally been limited by their inability to capture non-filers and to identify members of separate tax units living in the same household. We overcome these obstacles and create household records directly in the tax data using mailing address information included on tax forms. We then present the first set of tax-based household income and inequality measures for the entire income distribution. When comparing household income inequality results in the tax data to those using the March CPS, we confirm previous findings that the March CPS understates the inequality of household income. However, we also find that the previous approach of using tax units in the IRS data to proxy for households leads to an overstatement of household income inequality. Finally, using households in the IRS tax records, we illustrate how focusing on tax units rather than households alters the observed distribution of tax programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Keywords: EITC, Household Income, IRS Data, Income Inequality, Tax Unit Income
Abstract: We investigate how the use of a currency transmits monetary policy shocks in the global banking system. We use newly available unique data on the bilateral cross-border lending flows of 27 BIS-reporting lending banking systems to over 50 borrowing countries, broken down by currency denomination (USD, EUR and JPY). We have three main findings. First, monetary shocks in a currency significantly affect cross-border lending flows in that currency, even when neither the lending banking system nor the borrowing country uses that currency as their own. Second, this transmission works mainly through lending to non-banks. Third, this currency dimension of the bank lending channel works similarly across the three currencies suggesting that the cross-border bank lending channel of liquidity shock transmission may not be unique to lending in USD.
Keywords: Bank lending channel, Cross-border bank lending, Currency denomination, Monetary transmission