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Non-Linear Employment Effects of Tax Policy
We study the non-linear propagation mechanism of tax policy in a heterogeneous agent equilibrium business cycle model with search frictions in the labor market and an extensive margin of employment adjustment. The model exhibits endogenous job destruction and endogenous hiring standards in the form of occasionally-binding zero-surplus constraints. After parameterizing the model using U.S. data, we find that the dynamic response of employment to a temporary change in the labor income tax is highly non-linear, displaying sizable asymmetries and state-dependence. Notably, the response to a tax rate cut is at least twice as large in a recession as in an expansion.
U.S. Housing as a Global Safe Asset: Evidence from China Shocks
This paper demonstrates that the measured stock of China's holding of U.S. assets could be much higher than indicated by the U.S. net international investment position data due to unrecorded historical Chinese inflows into an increasingly popular global safe haven asset: U.S. residential real estate. We first use aggregate capital flows data to show that the increase in unrecorded capital inflows in the U.S. balance of payment accounts over the past decade is mainly linked to inflows from China into U.S. housing markets. Then, using a unique web traffic dataset that provides a direct measure of Chinese demand for U.S. housing at the zip code level, we estimate via a difference-in-difference matching framework that house prices in major U.S. cities that are highly exposed to demand from China have on average grown 7 percentage points faster than similar neighborhoods with low exposure over the period 2010-2016. These average excess price growth gaps co-move closely with macro-level measures of U.S. capital inflows from China, and tend to widen following periods of economic stress in China, suggesting that Chinese households view U.S. housing as a safe haven asset.
Keywords: China, housing and real estate, capital flows, safe assets
Making the Elite: Top Jobs, Disparities, and Solutions
How do socioeconomically unequal screening practices impact access to elite firms and what policies might reduce inequality? Using personnel data from elite U.S. and European multinational corporations recruiting from an elite Indian college, I show that caste disparities in hiring do not arise in many job search stages, including: applications, application reading, written aptitude tests, large group debates that assess socio-emotional skills, and job choices. Rather, disparities arise in the final round, comprising non-technical personal interviews that screen on family background, neighborhood, and "cultural fit." These characteristics are plausibly weakly correlated with productivity (at the interview round) but strongly correlated with caste. Employer willingness to pay for an advantaged caste is as large as that for a full standard deviation increase in college GPA. A hiring subsidy that eliminates the caste penalty would be more cost-effective in diversifying elite hiring than equalizing the caste distribution of pre-college test scores or enforcing hiring quotas.
Keywords: Discrimination, Inequality, Elite Labor Markets, Multinational Corporations, Organizational Practices, Personnel Screening, Personal Interviews, Cultural Fit, Hiring Discretion
Trade Policy is Real News: Theory and Evidence
We evaluate the aggregate effects of changes in trade barriers when these changes can be implemented slowly over time and trade responds gradually to changes in trade barriers because firm-level trade costs make exporting a dynamic decision. Our model shows how expectations of changes in trade barriers affect the economy. We find that while decreases in trade barriers increase economic activity, expectations of lower future trade barriers temporarily decrease investment, hours worked, and output. Further- more, canceling an expected decline in future trade barriers raises investment and output in the short run but substantially lowers medium-run growth. These effects are larger when the expected reform is bigger. In the data, we find that countries with more trade growth after the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) rounds decreased investment and hours worked in the years leading to the tariff cuts, as predicted by our model.
Keywords: Trade Policy, Business Cycles, Sunk Costs, Gains from Trade
The Pitfalls of Using Location Quotients to Identify Clusters and Represent Industry Specialization in Small Regions
This paper examines the use of location quotients, a measure of regional business activity relative to the national benchmark, as an indicator of sectoral agglomeration in small cities and towns, and as a measure of industry specialization that might impact the number of new business startups in these places. Using establishment-level data on businesses located in Maine, our findings suggest that the addition of one "hypothetical" establishment in very small towns leads to a dramatic change in the magnitude of the region-industry location quotient. At population sizes of about 4,100 or more people, however, location quotients are reasonably stable. Regression results from an analysis of the relationship between new business activity and regional industry specialization show that the effect of location quotients on business startups switches from "inelastic" to "elastic" at a population size cutoff of about 2,600 residents. Overall, our findings suggest that researchers and practitioners should exercise caution when using location quotients to study small regions.
Financial Stability Governance and Central Bank Communications
We investigate how central banks' governance frameworks influence their financial stability communication strategies and assess the effectiveness of these strategies in preventing a worsening of financial cycle conditions. We develop a simple conceptual framework of how central banks communicate about financial stability and how communication shapes the evolution of the financial cycle. We apply our framework using data on the governance characteristics of 24 central banks and the sentiment conveyed in their financial stability reports. We find robust evidence that communications by central banks participating in interagency financial stability committees more effectively mitigate a deterioration in financial conditions and advert a potential financial crisis. After observing a deterioration in conditions, such central banks also transmit a calmer message, suggesting that the ability to use policy tools other than communications strengthens incentives not to just "cry wolf".
Corporate stress and bank nonperforming loans: Evidence from Pakistan
Using detailed administrative Pakistani credit registry data, we show that banks with low leverage ratios are both significantly slower and less likely to recognize a loan as nonperforming than other banks that lend to the same firm. Moreover, we find suggestive evidence that this lack of recognition impedes loan curing, with banks with low leverage ratios reporting significantly higher final default rates than other banks for the same borrower (even after controlling for differences in loan terms). Our empirical findings are consistent with the theoretical prediction that classifying a nonperforming loan is more expensive for banks with less capital.
Keywords: Credit markets, banks, corporate debt, evergreening, nonperforming loans.
Macroeconomic and Financial Risks: A Tale of Mean and Volatility
We study the joint conditional distribution of GDP growth and corporate credit spreads using a stochastic volatility VAR. Our estimates display significant cyclical co-movement in uncertainty (the volatility implied by the conditional distributions), and risk (the probability of tail events) between the two variables. We also find that the interaction between two shocks--a main business cycle shock as in Angeletos et al. (2020) and a main financial shock--is crucial to account for the variation in uncertainty and risk, especially around crises. Our results highlight the importance of using multivariate nonlinear models to understand the determinants of uncertainty and risk.
Keywords: Uncertainty, tail risk, joint conditional distributions, main shocks.
Global Banking and Firm Financing: A Double Adverse Selection Channel of International Transmission
This paper proposes a "double adverse selection channel" of international transmission. It shows, theoretically and empirically, that financial systems with both global and local banks exhibit double adverse selection in credit allocation across firms. Global (local) banks have a comparative advantage in extracting information on global (local) risk, and this double information asymmetry creates a segmented credit market where each bank lends to the worst firms in terms of the unobserved risk factor. Given a bank funding (e.g., monetary policy) shock, double adverse selection affects firm financing at the extensive and price margins, generating spillover and amplification effects across countries.
Sharing Asymmetric Tail Risk: Smoothing, Asset Prices and Terms of Trade
Crises and tail events have asymmetric effects across borders, raising the value of arrangements improving insurance of macroeconomic risk. Using a two-country DSGE model, we provide an analytical and quantitative analysis of the channels through which countries gain from sharing (tail) risk. Riskier countries gain in smoother consumption but lose in relative wealth and average consumption. Safer countries benefit from higher wealth and better average terms of trade. Calibrated using the empirical distribution of moments of GDP-growth across countries, the model suggests non-negligible quantitative effects. We offer an algorithm for the correct solution of the equilibrium using DSGE models under complete markets, at higher order of approximation.
Expansionary Austerity: Reallocating Credit Amid Fiscal Consolidation
We study the impact of public debt limits on economic growth exploiting the introduction of a Mexican law capping the debt of subnational governments. Despite larger fiscal consolidation, states with higher ex-ante public debt grew substantially faster after the law, albeit at the expense of increased extreme poverty. Credit registry data suggests that the mechanism behind this result is a reduction in crowding out. After the law, banks operating in more indebted states reallocate credit away from local governments and into private firms. The unwinding of crowding out is stronger for riskier firms, firms borrowing from banks more exposed to local public debt, and for firms operating in states with lower public spending on infrastructure projects.
The Intangible Gender Gap: An Asset Channel of Inequality
We propose an "asset channel of inequality" that contributes to gender inequities. We establish that industries with low (high) gender pay gaps have high (low) shares of tangible assets. Because asset tangibility determines firms' ability to collateralize assets and borrow, credit conditions affect industries differently. We show that credit expansions further reduce the pay gap in low-pay-gap industries while leaving it unaffected in high-pay-gap industries, making low-pay-gap industries more appealing for women. Consequently, gender sorting across industries increases, which then cements gender roles and accentuates workplace gender bias. Ultimately, credit expansions help women "swim upstream" but also reinforce glass ceilings.
U.S. Monetary Policy Spillovers to Emerging Markets: Both Shocks and Vulnerabilities Matter
Using a macroeconomic model, we explore how sources of shocks and vulnerabilities matter for the transmission of U.S. monetary changes to emerging market economies (EMEs). We utilize a calibrated two-country New Keynesian model with financial frictions, partly-dollarized balance sheets, and imperfectly anchored inflation expectations. Contrary to other recent studies that also emphasize the sources of shocks, our approach allows the quantification of effects on real macroeconomic variables as well, in addition to financial spillovers. Moreover, we model the most relevant vulnerabilities structurally. We show that higher U.S. interest rates arising from stronger U.S. aggregate demand generate modestly positive spillovers to economic activity in EMEs with stronger fundamentals, but can be adverse for vulnerable EMEs. In contrast, U.S. monetary tightenings driven by a more-hawkish policy stance cause a substantial slowdown in activity in all EMEs. Our model also captures the challenging policy tradeos that EME central banks face. We show that these tradeoffs are more favorable when inflation expectations are well anchored.
The Economic Effects of Firm-Level Uncertainty: Evidence Using Subjective Expectations
This paper uses over two decades of Italian survey data on business managers' expectations to measure subjective firm-level uncertainty and quantify its economic effects. We document that firm-level uncertainty persists for a few years and varies across firms' demographic characteristics. Uncertainty induces long-lasting economic effects over a broad array of real and financial variables. The source of uncertainty matters with firms responding only to downside uncertainty, that is, uncertainty about future adverse outcomes. Economy-wide uncertainty, constructed aggregating firm-level uncertainty, is countercyclical but uncorrelated with typical proxies in the literature, and accounts for a sizable amount of GDP variation during crises.
Keywords: Uncertainty, business cycles, investment, expectations, cash holdings, downside uncertainty
Revisiting Capital-Skill Complementarity, Inequality, and Labor Share
This paper revisits capital-skill complementarity and inequality, as in Krusell, Ohanian, Rios-Rull and Violante (KORV, 2000). Using their methodology, we study how well the KORV model accounts for more recent data, including the large changes in the labor's share of income that were not present in KORV. We study both labor share of gross income (as in KORV), and income net of depreciation. We also use nonfarm business sector output as an alternative measure of production to real GDP. We find strong evidence for continued capital-skill complementarity in the most recent data, and we also find that the model continues to closely account for the skill premium. The model captures the average level of labor share, though it overpredicts its level by 2-4 percentage points at the end of the period.
Keywords: Capital-skill complementarity, elasticity of substitution, inequality, labor share, skill premium, technological change.
The Global Determinants of International Equity Risk Premiums
We examine the commonality in international equity risk premiums by linking empirical evidence for the international stock return predictability of US downside and upside variance risk premiums (DVP and UVP, respectively) with implications from an international asset pricing framework, which takes the perspective of a US/global investor and features asymmetric global macroeconomic, financial market, and risk aversion shocks. We find that DVP and UVP predict international stock returns through different global equity risk premium determinants: bad and good macroeconomic uncertainties, respectively. Across countries, US investors demand lower macroeconomic risk compensation but higher financial market risk compensation for more-integrated countries.
The Global Transmission of Real Economic Uncertainty
Using a sample of 30 countries representing about 65% of the global GDP, we find that real economic uncertainty (REU) has negative long-lasting domestic economic effects and transmits across countries. The international spillover effects of REU are (i) additional to those of domestic REUs, (ii) statistically significant, and (iii) economically meaningful. Trade ties play a key role in explaining why uncertainty generated in one country can affect economic outcomes in other countries. Based on this evidence, we construct a novel index for global REU as the trade-weighted average of all countries' REUs. We disentangle the effects of the domestic and foreign components of global REU and find that, on average, innovations to the foreign component can contribute up to 28% of the future variation in domestic industrial production, with the effect being disproportionately larger on its manufacturing component, the component contributing the most to the tradable goods sector, than on its retail sales component.
Keywords: Economic effects of uncertainty, International transmission, Spillovers
Price Setting and Volatility: Evidence from Oil Price Volatility Shocks
How do changes in aggregate volatility alter the impulse response of output to monetary policy? To analyze this question, I study whether individual prices in Producer Price Index micro data are more likely to change and to move in the same direction when aggregate volatility is high, which would increase aggregate price exibility and reduce the effectiveness of monetary policy. Taking advantage of plausibly exogenous oil price volatility shocks and heterogeneity in oil usage across industries, I find that price changes are more dispersed and less frequent, implying that prices are less likely to move in the same direction when aggregate volatility is high. This contrasts with findings in the literature about idiosyncratic volatility. I use a state-dependent pricing model to interpret my findings. Random menu costs are necessary for the model to match the positive empirical relationship between oil price volatility and price change dispersion. This is the case because random menu costs reduce the extent to which firms with prices far from their optimum all act in a coordinated fashion when volatility increases. The model implies that increases in aggregate volatility do not substantially reduce the ability of monetary policy to stimulate output.
Keywords: Volatility, Ss model, Menu cost, Monetary policy, Oil
Supply of Sovereign Safe Assets and Global Interest Rates
We estimate that the supply of sovereign safe assets is a major driver of neutral interest rates--real rates consistent with both economic activity and inflation at their trends. We find this result using an empirical cross-country model with many economic drivers for the neutral rates of 11 advanced economies during the 1960-2019 period. The increasing availability of safe assets after 2008 has pushed up neutral rates, preventing them from continuing their previous decline because of other drivers. We also evaluate the "global savings glut" hypothesis. We estimate that since 1994 the global accumulation of international exchange reserves in safe assets has lowered the availability of these assets to the private sector and, thus pushed down neutral rates. Finally, we find that economies' neutral rates are subject to important global spillovers from developments in other economies.
Keywords: neutral interest rates, safe assets, international reserves, global savings glut.
From Micro to Macro: A Note on the Analysis of Aggregate Productivity Dynamics Using Firm-Level Data
In the empirical literature, the analysis of aggregate productivity dynamics using firm-level productivity has mostly been based on changes in the mean of log-productivity. This paper shows that there can be substantial quantitative and qualitative differences in the results relative to when the analysis is based on changes in the mean of productivity, and discusses the circumstances under which such differences are likely to happen. We use firm-level data for Portugal for the period 2006-2015 to illustrate the point. When the mean of productivity is used, we estimate that TFP and labor productivity for the whole economy increased by 17.7 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively, over this period. But, when the mean of log-productivity is used, we estimate that these two productivity measures declined by 4.3 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively. Similarly disparate results are obtained for productivity decompositions regarding the contributions for productivity growth of surviving, entering and exiting firms.
Keywords: Jensen's inequality, productivity decomposition, geometric mean.
Back to the Present: Learning about the Euro Area through a Now-casting Model
We build a model for simultaneously now-casting economic conditions in the euro area and its three largest member countries|Germany, France, and Italy. The model formalizes how market participants and policymakers monitor the euro area by incorporating all market moving indicators in real time. We find that area wide and country-specific data provide informative signals to now-cast the economic conditions in the euro area and member countries. The model provides accurate predictions of economic conditions in real time over a period that covers the past three recessions.
This paper was reposted April 2, 2021, with the following changes: In Figure 1, bars decomposing the nowcasted euro-area GDP growth across its main countries have been added, and an associated sentence on page 2 has been revised to reflect this.
Keywords: Now-casting, euro area, dynamic factor models
The Dollar and Corporate Borrowing Costs
We show that U.S. dollar movements affect syndicated loan terms for U.S. borrowers, even for those without trade exposure. We identify the effect of dollar movements using spread and loan amount adjustments during the syndication process. Using this high-frequency, within loan variation, we find that a one standard deviation increase in the dollar index increases spreads by up to 15 basis points and reduces loan amounts and underpricing by up to 2 percent and 7 basis points, respectively. These effects are concentrated in dollar appreciations. Our results suggest that global factors reflected in the dollar affect U.S. borrowing costs.
Keywords: loan pricing, syndicated loans, dollar, institutional investors, risk taking.
Dynamic Econometrics in Action: A Biography of David F. Hendry
David Hendry has made–and continues to make–pivotal contributions to the econometrics of empirical economic modeling, economic forecasting, econometrics software, substantive empirical economic model design, and economic policy. This paper reviews his contributions by topic, emphasizing the overlaps between different strands in his research and the importance of real-world problems in motivating that research.
Note: This paper was republished shortly after publication to update the date on the title page.
Globalization, Trade Imbalances and Labor Market Adjustment
We study the role of global trade imbalances in shaping the adjustment dynamics in response to trade shocks. We build and estimate a general equilibrium, multi-country, multi-sector model of trade with two key ingredients: (a) Consumption-saving decisions in each country commanded by representative households, leading to endogenous trade imbalances; (b) labor market frictions across and within sectors, leading to unemployment dynamics and sluggish transitions to shocks. We use the estimated model to study the behavior of labor markets in response to globalization shocks, including shocks to technology, trade costs, and inter-temporal preferences (savings gluts). We find that modeling trade imbalances changes both qualitatively and quantitatively the short- and long-run implications of globalization shocks for labor reallocation and unemployment dynamics. In a series of empirical applications, we study the labor market effects of shocks accrued to the global economy, their implications for the gains from trade, and we revisit the "China Shock" through the lens of our model. We show that the US enjoys a 2.2 percent gain in response to globalization shocks. These gains would have been 73 percent larger in the absence of the global savings glut, but they would have been 40 percent smaller in a balanced-trade world.
Keywords: Globalization, labor markets, trade imbalances
Bought, Sold and Bought Again: The Impact of Complex Value Chains on Export Elasticities
Global value chain (GVC) participation affects the relationship between trade volumes and exchange rate movements. Guided by a simple theory, we show that exports react to the exchange rate between the country producing value added contained in exports and the country of final absorption for this value added. Three predictions follow: (i) a higher share of foreign value added in exports reduce the responsiveness of export volumes to exchange rate changes, (ii) a greater share of exports that returns as imports also reduce the responsiveness of export volumes and (iii) a higher share of inputs that are further reexported increase the responsiveness of exports to the trading partner's nominal effective exchange rate. Using a large origin-sector-destination level panel data set covering the period 1995-2009 and around 85% of world GDP, we find strong empirical support for these predictions. We further show that some sectors in some countries can experience a decline in gross exports when their currency depreciates.
Keywords: export elasticities, global value chains, currency unions, exchange rate passthrough
The Financial (In)Stability Real Interest Rate, R**
We introduce the concept of financial stability real interest rate using a macroeconomic banking model with an occasionally binding financing constraint as in Gertler and Kiyotaki (2010). The financial stability interest rate, r**, is the threshold interest rate that triggers the constraint being binding.
Increasing imbalances in the financial sector measured by an increase in leverage are accom- panied by a lower threshold that could trigger financial instability events. We also construct a theoretical implied financial condition index and show how it is related to the gap between the natural and financial stability interest rates.
Optimizing Credit Gaps for Predicting Financial Crises: Modelling Choices and Tradeoffs
Credit gaps are good predictors for financial crises, and banking regulators recommend using them to inform countercyclical capital buffers for banks. Researchers typically create credit gap measures using trend-cycle decomposition methods, which require many modelling choices, such as the method used, and the smoothness of the underlying trend. Other choices hinge on the tradeoffs implicit in how gaps are used as early warning indicators (EWIs) for predicting crises, such as the preference over false positives and false negatives. We evaluate how the performance of credit-gap-based EWIs for predicting crises is influenced by these modelling choices. For the most common trend-cycle decomposition methods used to recover credit gaps, we find that optimally smoothing the trend enhances out-of-sample prediction. We also show that out-of sample performance improves further when we consider a preference for robustness of the credit gap estimates to the arrival of new information, which is important as any EWI should work in real-time. We offer several practical implications.
Keywords: Credit, Credit Gap, Optimization, Predictive Power, Robustness, Trend-cycle decomposition.
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