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Finance and Economics Discussion Series

Other Years Available:
feds 2001-63
December 2001

The Effect of Market Size Structure on Competition: The Case of Small Business Lending (PDF)

Allen N. Berger, Richard J. Rosen, and Gregory F. Udell

Abstract: Banking industry consolidation has raised concern about the supply of small business credit since large banks generally invest lower proportions of their assets in small business loans. However, we find that the likelihood that a small business borrows from a bank of a given size is roughly proportional to the local market presence of banks of that size, although there are exceptions. Moreover, small business loan interest rates depend more on the size structure of the market than on the size of the bank providing the credit, with markets dominated by large banks generally charging lower prices.

Keywords: Banks, small business, mergers, relationship lending, size structure, loan prices

Abstract: I estimate a forward-looking monetary policy reaction function for the Federal Reserve for the periods before and after Paul Volcker's appointment as Chairman in 1979, using information that was available to the FOMC in real time from 1966 to 1995. The results suggest broad similarities in policy and point to a forward looking approach to policy consistent with a strong reaction to inflation forecasts during both periods. This contradicts the hypothesis, based on analysis with ex post constructed data, that the instability of the Great Inflation was the result of weak FOMC policy responses to expected inflation. A difference is that prior to Volcker's appointment, policy was too activist in reacting to perceived output gaps that retrospectively proved overambitious. Drawing on contemporaneous accounts of FOMC policy, I discuss the implications of the findings for alternative explanations of the Great Inflation and the improvement in macroeconomic stability since then.

Keywords: Monetary policy rules, real-time data, Greenbook forecasts, stagflation

Full paper (652 KB Postscript)

Abstract: We survey the evidence bearing on measurement error in the CPI and provide our best estimate of the magnitude of CPI bias. We also identify a "weighting" bias in the CPI that has not been previously discussed in the literature. In total, we estimate that the CPI overstates the change in the cost of living by about 0.6 percentage point per year, with a confidence interval that ranges from 0.1 to 1.2 percentage points. Roughly half of this bias is accounted for by the CPI's inability to fully capture the welfare improvement from quality change and the introduction of new items. Our bias estimate is smaller than that found in several earlier studies, in part because the BLS has recently made a variety of improvements to its procedures; our study highlights several potential areas for further improvement.

Keywords: Consumer price index, CPI, CPI bias, price measurement

feds 2001-60
April 2008

Risk-Based Capital Requirements for Mortgage Loans (PDF)

Paul S. Calem and Michael LaCour-Little

Abstract: We develop estimates of risk-based capital requirements for single-family mortgage loans held in portfolio by financial intermediaries. Our method relies on simulation of default and loss probability distributions via simulation of changes in economic variables with conditional default probabilities calibrated to recent actual mortgage loan performance data from the 1990s. Based on simulations with varying input parameters, we find that appropriate capital charges for credit risk vary substantially with loan or borrower characteristics and are generally below the current regulatory standard. These factors may help explain the high degree of securitization, or regulatory capital arbitrage, observed for this asset category.

Keywords: Capital, mortgage, risk, regulation

feds 2001-59
December 2001

Linear Data Transformations Used in Economics (PDF)

Darrel Cohen

Abstract: The paper examines the properties of standard data transformations--such as growth rates and moving averages--used by applied economists. Because many resources are devoted to understanding the economic significance of incoming data by government and financial-market economists, for example, this paper considers data filters that do not drop recent observations, in contrast to the approximately "ideal" measures recently developed in the literature. Using frequency-domain techniques, it is established that moving averages of multi-period growth rates can attenuate the bias and phase shifts introduced by common data filters.

Keywords: Data transformations, filters, spectral analysis

Abstract: We study the implications for optimal monetary policy of introducing habit formation in consumption into a general equilibrium model with sticky prices. Habit formation affects the model's endogenous dynamics through its effects on both aggregate demand and households' supply of output. We show that the objective of monetary policy consistent with welfare maximization includes output stabilization, as well as inflation and output gap stabilization. We find that the variance of output increases under optimal policy, even though it acquires a higher implicit weight in the welfare function. We also find that a simple interest rate rule nearly achieves the welfare-optimal allocation, regardless of the degree of habit formation. In this rule, the optimal responses to inflation and the lagged interest rate are both declining in the size of the habit, although super-inertial policies remain optimal.

Keywords: Habit formation, interest rate rules

Abstract: Stock option grants to top executives and to employees below the top executive ranks have risen rapidly with stock prices in recent years. This paper examines the growth in stock option grants at S&P 1500 companies between 1996 and 1999, and estimates the pay-for-performance sensitivities of the value of new option grants for top executives and, separately, for employees below the top executive levels. In our framework, options are a reward for past performance, leading to a positive relationship between firms' stock prices and the value of new option grants. We find substantial sensitivities for both sets of employees, but they are larger for employees below the top executive levels. Moreover, in contrast to top executives, the sensitivities for employees below the senior management levels do not differ by whether firm stock prices have risen or fallen. The greater sensitivity of option grant values to stock prices for employees below the top ranks is consistent with greater demand for options following price increases, and less willingness to accept options when past performance has been poor. We also find that new grants at larger firms are related to industry performance, consistent with more competitive markets for top executive talent to manage large organizations as industry conditions improve.

Keywords: Employee stock options, pay-for-performance, executive compensation

feds 2001-56
December 2001

Measuring the Natural Rate of Interest (PDF)

Thomas Laubach and John C. Williams

Abstract: A key variable for the conduct of monetary policy is the natural rate of interest -- the real interest rate consistent with output equaling potential and stable inflation. Economic theory implies that the natural rate of interest varies over time and depends on the trend growth rate of output. In this paper we apply the Kalman filter to jointly estimate the natural rate of interest, potential output, and the trend growth rate, and examine the empirical relationship between these estimated unobserved series. We find substantial variation in the natural rate of interest over the past four decades in the United States. Our natural rate estimates vary about one-for-one with changes in the trend growth rate. We show that policymakers' mismeasurement of the natural rate of interest can cause a significant deterioration in macroeconomic stabilization.

Keywords: Natural rate of interest, interest rate rules, Kalman filter, trend growth, potential output

Abstract: The Federal Reserve (Fed) has maintained a general trend toward increased transparency and gradualism. This paper investigates the implications of these historical developments for the anticipation of monetary policy actions and adjustment of interest rates. In a theoretical framework, we establish the Fed's ability to manipulate overnight rates via an "anticipation" effect. The anticipation effect is defined as interest rate adjustments that take place prior to a policy announcement (or prior to when the complementary open market operations associated with that policy action take place) due to market's improved ability to predict future policy actions. Our empirical results document that most market rates adjust to anticipated policy actions prior to the actual announcement. Because the market responds to policy announcements instantly, the Trading Desk does not need to act immediately after the target change and can wait until the market incorporates the new information that comes with the policy announcement.

Keywords: Transparency, liquidity effect, announcement effect, anticipation effect

Abstract: This paper demonstrates that money can play an important role as an information variable and may result in major improvements in current output estimates. However, the specific nature of this role depends on the magnitude of the output measurement error relative to the money demand shock. In particular, we find noticeable but small improvements in output estimates due to the inclusion of money growth in the information set. Money plays a quantitatively more important role with regard to output estimation if we allow for a contribution of monetary analysis in reducing uncertainty due to money demand shocks. In this case, money also helps to reduce uncertainty about output forecasts.

Keywords: Euro area, Kalman filter, measurement error, monetary policy rules, rational expectations

Abstract: What does the level of the real interest rates tell us about where the economy, or one's portfolio, is headed? The answer to this question depends on one's estimate of the "equilibrium" value of real interest rates, a measure that is unfortunately not directly observed in the market place. In this paper, I provide a brief overview of some of the existing approaches to defining and measuring equilibrium real rates and introduce a novel method based on yields on the U.S. Treasury's inflation-indexed securities (TIIS). I discuss a simple framework for analyzing TIIS yields and illustrate how to use them to gauge the stance of monetary policy and overall economic prospects.

Keywords: Inflation-indexed securities, forward rates, risk premium, monetary policy

feds 2001-52
November 2001

Do Provisional Estimates of Output Miss Economic Turning Points? (PDF)

Karen E. Dynan and Douglas W. Elmendorf

Abstract: Initial estimates of aggregate output and its components are based on very incomplete source data, so they may not fully capture shifts in economic conditions. In particular, if those estimates are based partly on trends in preceding quarters, provisional estimates may overstate activity when actual output is decelerating and understate it when actual output is accelerating. We examine this issue using the Real Time Data Set for Macroeconomists, which contains contemporaneous estimates of GNP or GDP and its components beginning in the late 1960s, as well as financial-market information and other data. We find that provisional estimates tend to partially miss accelerations and decelerations. We also consider whether better use of contemporaneous data could improve the quality of provisional estimates. We find that provisional estimates do not represent optimal forecasts of the current estimates, but that the improvement in forecast quality from including additional data appears to be quite small.

Keywords: Business cycles, macroeconomic data

Abstract: It is widely argued in the literature on the Great Depression that the prevalence of unit banks aggravated the problem of financial instability that afflicted the country. This paper tests the theory that more widespread branch banking would have reduced financial turbulence in the United States by examining the survival of individual branch and unit banks. Results indicate that instead of being more likely to survive, branch banks were more likely to fail. Further investigation suggests that this higher failure rate occurred because branch banks systematically held riskier portfolios than unit banks.

Keywords: Branch banking, Great Depression

Abstract: The credit derivatives market is emerging as a potentially important new development that may help shape the overall financial markets in the years to come. In this paper, I provide a brief overview of the credit derivatives market and assess its future potential in the creation of private-sector instruments that are virtually free of default risk, and, thus, may be appealing to investors who currently favor the safety of U.S. Treasury securities.

Keywords: Credit default swaps, risk, asset swaps, financial engineering, synthetic CDOs

Abstract: We exploit the distributional information contained in high-frequency intraday data in constructing a simple conditional moment estimator for stochastic volatility diffusions. The estimator is based on the analytical solutions of the first two conditional moments for the latent integrated volatility, the realization of which is effectively approximated by the sum of the squared high-frequency increments of the process. Our simulation evidence indicates that the resulting GMM estimator is highly reliable and accurate. Our empirical implementation based on high-frequency five-minute foreign exchange returns suggests the presence of multiple latent stochastic volatility factors and possible jumps.

Keywords: Stochastic volatility diffusions, integrated volatility, quadratic variation, realized volatility, high-frequency data, foreign exchange rates, GMM Estimation

Abstract: In the current regulatory framework, capital requirements are based on risk-weighted assets, but all business loans carry a uniform risk weight, irrespective of variations in credit risk. The proposed new Capital Accord of the Bank for International Settlements provides for a greater sensitivity of capital requirements to credit risk, raising the question of whether, and to what extent, the new capital standards will intensify business cycles. In this paper, we evaluate the potential cyclical effects of the "standardized approach" to risk evaluation in the new Accord, which involves the ratings of external agencies. We combine Moody's data on changes in U.S. borrowers' credit ratings since 1970 with estimates of the risk profile of business loans at commercial banks from the Survey of Terms of Business Lending, and also a risk profile estimated by Treacy and Carey (1998). We find that the level of required capital against business loans would be noticeably lower under the new Accord compared with the current regime. We do not find evidence of any substantial additional cyclicality in required capital levels under the standardized approach of the new Accord relative to the current regime.

Keywords: New Basel Capital Accord, standardized approach, C&I loans, business cycles

Abstract: A growing empirical literature addresses the determinants of the sacrifice ratio, an imperfect measure of the tradeoff between inflation and aggregate output. This study endeavors to advance previous studies in three ways. First, the literature does not satisfactorily examine key fiscal and monetary policy practices that arguably affect policymaking credibility. These include the stock (and flow) of government debt, the issuance of inflation-indexed bonds, and the existence of explicit inflation targets. Second, previous studies unfortunately exclude non-OECD countries. Third, the literature is divided with respect to research design, and therefore this study produces sensitivity analyses of previous results. Given these addenda, the results generally suggest that credibility proxies are largely sensitive to research design. However, some data do support the hypothesis that governments with an incentive, rather than perhaps a publicized objective, to lower inflation achieve lower sacrifice ratios.

Keywords: Monetary policy, sacrifice ratios

feds 2001-46
November 2001

Term Structure of Interest Rates with Regime Shifts (PDF)

Ravi Bansal and Hao Zhou

Abstract: We develop a term structure model where the short interest rate and the market price of risks are subject to discrete regime shifts. Empirical evidence from Efficient Method of Moments estimation provides considerable support for the regime shifts model. Standard models, which include affine specifications with up to three factors, are sharply rejected in the data. Our diagnostics show that only the regime shifts model can account for the well documented violations of the expectations hypothesis, the observed conditional volatility, and the conditional correlation across yields. We find that regimes are intimately related to business cycles.

Keywords: Regime switching, term structure of interest rate, reprojection, efficient method of moments

Abstract: In this paper, we formulate a dynamic general equilibrium model with staggered nominal contracts, in which households and firms use optimal filtering to disentangle persistent and transitory shifts in the monetary policy rule. The calibrated model accounts quite well for the dynamics of output and inflation during the Volcker disinflation, and implies a sacrifice ratio very close to the estimated value. Our approach indicates that inflation persistence and substantial costs of disinflation can be generated in an optimizing-agent framework, without relaxing the assumption of rational expectations or relying on arbitrary modifications to the aggregate supply relation.

Keywords: Monetary policy, disinflation, sacrifice ratio, signal extraction

Abstract: Trend growth in total factor productivity (TFP) is unobserved; it is frequently assumed to evolve continuously over time. That assumption is inherent in the use of the Hodrick-Prescott or Bandpass filter to extract trend. Similarly, the Kalman filter/ unobserved-components approach assumes that changes in the trend growth rate are normally distributed. In fact, however, innovations to the trend growth rate of total factor productivity are far from normal. The distribution is fat-tailed, with large outliers in 1973. Allowing for these outliers, the estimated trend growth rate changes only infrequently. A nonlinear filtering approach is probably better suited to capturing the infrequent past and possible current shifts in trend growth of TFP. One such approach is the Markov-switching model, which is estimated and tested in this paper. The Markov- switching approach appears to have several advantages over repeated Andrews tests.

Keywords: Markov switching, total factor productivity, multifactor productivity

Abstract: Regulators and research economists typically view retail banking markets as locally limited, spanning an area that can often be approximated by a metropolitan area or a rural county. Banks are assumed to set retail prices based on the conditions of supply and demand prevailing within these local market areas. However, recent studies have found evidence that large, multimarket banking organizations tend to offer uniform interest rates for retail deposit accounts of a particular type throughout the area that they serve, at least within a given state. This uniform pricing phenomenon raises questions about the continued relevance of the concept of local banking markets for both research and antitrust purposes. We address this issue by developing and empirically testing a model to determine the effects of the presence of multimarket banks in a local geographic market on the deposit interest rates offered by single-market banks serving that same local market.

Keywords: Bank, pricing, multimarket

Abstract: Several studies report an empirical link between changes in monetary policy and short- as well as long-run stock market performance in the United States. Such findings are germane both to the study of market anomalies and to monetary policy transmission mechanisms. Previous univariate time-series results on long-run data, which use the discount rate as the main policy indicator, seem robust to alternative specifications of stock price returns given data on 16 countries from 1956 through 2000. However, out-of-sample tests indicate that the relation has largely decreased over time. Also, panel regressions, which notably include cross-sectional variance and therefore are particularly relevant to market participants, suggest that the relation is less sturdy, and consideration of excess as opposed to raw equity price returns in time-series regressions indicates no relation. Finally, alternative measures of central bank policy suggest a weaker and a diminished correlation between monetary policy changes and long-run stock market performance.

Keywords: Monetary policy, stock market returns

Abstract: Typical dynamic general-equilibrium (DGE) models with stochastic productivity, consumers with state-separable (expected utility) preferences, and capital accumulation imply a small welfare cost of business cycles and a small market price of risk (i.e., equity premium). I present an analytical solution to quantity and asset-price movements in a DGE model with preferences that are either state-separable or non-state-separable; non-state-separable preferences leave the response of quantities to productivity shocks unaltered from the solutions under expected utility, but can raise substantially the welfare cost of fluctuations or the equity premium implied by the model. I then show that a large welfare loss to business cycles does not imply a large gain from an activist monetary policy. In particular, monetary policy can implement the optimal allocation in a sticky-price version of the model, but the welfare gain from such a policy is trivial because the optimal allocation continues to imply a volatile consumption stream in response to productivity shocks. These results highlight an important distinction between recent new-Keynesian or neo-Monetarist models of business cycles and older Keynesian-style models: In the recent literature, economic fluctuations are largely an efficient response to shocks to the economy (and the deviations from efficiency stem primarily from relative price distortions associated with price rigidity--i.e., Harberger triangles). In the older literature, fluctuations were viewed as inherently inefficient (with larger inefficiencies--i.e., Okun's gaps). In both literatures, this distinction is largely assumed rather than discovered, and the proper view of this distinction is the key determinant of the potential benefit of stabilization policy.

Keywords: Non-expected utility, business cycles, stabilization policy, asset pricing

feds 2001-40
September 2004

Optimal Investment With Fixed Financing Costs (PDF)

Jason G. Cummins and Ingmar Nyman

Abstract: Models with a premium on external finance produce counterfactual predictions about liquidity management. We address this shortcoming by introducing a fixed cost of increasing external finance into an otherwise standard investment/financing problem. This additional financial friction is well motivated by case studies and our analysis shows that it generates more realistic predictions about liquidity management: firms hold external finance and idle cash simultaneously, and may invest an additional dollar of cash flow in liquidity rather than repaying external funds or investing in productive capital. In addition to better fitting the stylized facts about the time-series and crosssectional pattern of liquidity holding, these results may help shed light on the fragility of estimates of investment-cash flow sensitivities.

Keywords: financial adjustment cost; liquidity constraints; corporate cash holdings

feds 2001-39
October 2008

The Performance of Forecast-Based Monetary Policy Rules Under Model Uncertainty (PDF)

Andrew Levin, Volker Wieland, and John C. Williams

Abstract: We investigate the performance of forecast-based monetary policy rules using five macroeconomic models that reflect a wide range of views on aggregate dynamics. We identify the key characteristics of rules that are robust to model uncertainty: such rules respond to the one-year ahead inflation forecast and to the current output gap, and incorporate a substantial degree of policy inertia. In contrast, rules with longer forecast horizons are less robust and are prone to generating indeterminacy. In light of these results, we identify a robust benchmark rule that performs very well in all five models over a wide range of policy preferences.

Keywords: Inflation forecast targeting, optimal monetary policy, multiple equilibria

Abstract: This paper investigates depository institutions' decisions whether or not to impose surcharges (direct usage fees) on nondepositors who use their automated teller machines (ATMs). In addition to documenting patterns of surcharging, we examine motives for surcharging, including both direct generation of fee revenue and the potential to attract deposit customers who wish to avoid incurring surcharges at an institution's ATMs. Consistent with expectations, we find that the probability of surcharging increases with both the institution's share of market ATMs and the time since surcharging was first allowed in the state, and decreases with the local ATM density. Further, we find evidence consistent with the use of surcharges to attract deposit customers who are new to the local banking market, but find no evidence that larger banks use surcharges as a means to attract existing customers away from smaller local competitors.

Keywords: ATM, surcharge, bank, pricing

Abstract: This article presents a framework for modeling defaultable debt under alternative recovery conventions (for a wide class of processes describing recovery rates and default probability). These debt models have the ability to differentiate the impact of recovery rates and default probability, and can be utilized to invert the market expectation of recovery rates implicit in bond prices. Among potential applications, the framework can be used for pricing and hedging credit derivatives that are contingent on the default event and/or recovery levels. Empirical implementation of these models suggests two central findings. First, the recovery concept that specifies recovery as a fraction of the discounted par value has broader empirical support. Second, parametric debt valuation models can provide a useful assessment of recovery rates embedded in bond prices. This article has attempted to model recovery and comprehend their impact on debt values.

Keywords: Recovery rate, default risk, bond valuation, interest rate

Abstract: This paper models the inner workings of relationship lending, the implications for bank organizational structure, and the effects of shocks to the economic environment on the availability of relationship credit to small businesses. Relationship lending depends on the accumulation over time by the loan officer of "soft" information. Because the loan officer is the repository of this soft information, agency problems are created throughout the organization that are best resolved by structuring the bank as a small, closely-held organization with few managerial layers. The shocks analyzed include technological innovations, regulatory regime shifts, banking industry consolidation, and monetary policy shocks.

Keywords: Banks, small business, mergers, relationship lending, organizational structure

Full paper (1181 KB Postscript)
feds 2001-35
August 2001

The Effects of Dynamic Changes in Bank Competition on the Supply of Small Business Credit (PDF)

Allen N. Berger, Lawrence G. Goldberg, and Lawrence J. White

Abstract: We study the effects of structural changes in banking markets on the supply of credit to small businesses. Specifically, we examine whether bank mergers and acquisitions (M&As) and entry have "external" effects on small business loans by other banks in the same local markets. The results suggest modest positive external effects from these dynamic changes in competition, except that large banks may reduce small business lending in reaction to entry. We confirm bank size and age as important determinants of this lending, and show that the measured age effect does not appear to be driven by local market M&A activity.

Keywords: Bank, mergers, small business

Full paper (1181 KB Postscript)
feds 2001-34
August 2001

The Ability of Banks to Lend to Informationally Opaque Small Businesses (PDF)

Allen N. Berger, Leora F. Klapper, and Gregory F. Udell

Abstract: We test hypotheses about the effects of bank size, foreign ownership, and distress on lending to informationally opaque small firms using a rich new data set on Argentinean banks, firms, and loans. We also test hypotheses about borrowing from a single bank versus multiple banks. Our results suggest that large and foreign-owned institutions may have difficulty extending relationship loans to opaque small firms. Bank distress appears to have no greater effect on small borrowers than on large borrowers, although even small firms may react to bank distress by borrowing from multiple banks, raising borrowing costs and destroying some relationship benefits.

Keywords: Banks, mergers, foreign ownership, financial distress, multiple lenders

Full paper (2190 KB Postscript)
feds 2001-33
August 2001

Systematic Risk and Financial Consolidation: Are They Related? (3.1 MB PDF)

Gianni De Nicolo and Myron L. Kwast

Abstract: The creation of a number of very large and sometimes increasingly complex financial institutions, resulting in part from the on-going consolidation of the financial system, has raised concerns that the degree of systemic risk in the financial system may have increased. We argue that firm interdependencies, as measured by correlations of stock returns, provide an indicator of systemic risk potential. We analyze the dynamics of the stock return correlations of a sample of U.S. large and complex banking organizations (LCBOs) over 1988-1999, and find a significant positive trend in stock return correlations. In addition, we relate firms' return correlations to their consolidation activity. Consolidation at the sample LCBOs appears to have contributed to LCBOs interdependencies. However, consolidation elasticities of correlation exhibit substantial time variation, and likely declined in the latter part of the decade. Thus, factors other than consolidation have also been responsible for the upward trend in return correlations.

Keywords: Systemic risk, banks, consolidation

Abstract: This paper examines the effect of inflation on stock valuations and expected long-run returns. Ex ante estimates of expected long-run returns are constructed by incorporating analysts' earnings forecasts into a variant of the Campbell-Shiller dividend-price ratio model. The negative relation between equity valuations and expected inflation is found to be the result of two effects: a rise in expected inflation coincides with both (i) lower expected real earnings growth and (ii) higher required real returns. The earnings channel mostly reflects a negative relation between expected long-term earnings growth and expected inflation. The effect of expected inflation on required (long-run) real stock returns is also substantial. A one percentage point increase in expected inflation is estimated to raise required real stock returns about one percentage point, which on average would imply a 20 percent decline in stock prices. But the inflation factor in expected real stock returns is also in long-term Treasury yields; consequently, expected inflation has little effect on the long-run equity premium.

Keywords: Inflation, stock returns, equity premium, price-earnings ratio

Abstract: In recent years, the trading accounts at large commercial banks have grown substantially and become progressively more diverse and complex. We provide descriptive statistics on the trading revenues from such activities and on the associated Value-at-Risk forecasts internally estimated by banks. For a sample of large bank holding companies, we evaluate the performance of banks' trading risk models by examining the statistical accuracy of the VaR forecasts. Although a substantial literature has examined the statistical and economic meaning of Value-at-Risk models, this article is the first to provide a detailed analysis of the performance of models actually in use.

Keywords: Market risk, portfolio model, value-at-risk, volatility

Full paper (26851 KB Postscript)
feds 2001-30
July 2001

New Tests of the New-Keynesian Phillips Curve (PDF)

Jeremy Rudd and Karl Whelan

Abstract: Is the observed correlation between current and lagged inflation a function of backward-looking inflation expectations, or do the lags in inflation regressions merely proxy for rational forward-looking expectations, as in the new-Keynesian Phillips curve? Recent research has attempted to answer this question by using instrumental variables techniques to estimate "hybrid" specifications for inflation that allow for effects of lagged and future inflation. We show that these tests of forward-looking behavior have very low power against alternative, but non-nested, backward-looking specifications, and demonstrate that results previously interpreted as evidence for the new-Keynesian model are also consistent with a backward-looking Phillips curve. We develop alternative, more powerful tests, which find a very limited role for forward-looking expectations.

Keywords: Inflation, Phillips curve

feds 2001-29
July 2001

Production Synergies, Technology Adoption, Unemployment, and Wages (PDF)

Gwen Eudey and Miguel Molico

Abstract: Recent empirical work reveals considerable heterogeneity in the use of technologies within industries, suggesting technology adoption depends on factors other than industry type. We present a model in which the factors that lead to heterogenous technology adoption play a key economic role in explaining other aspects of the U.S. economy that have been the focus of recent theoretical work, including wage and technology dispersion within and between skill groups and the U-shaped pattern of measured productivity that many other researchers have attributed to learning economies or to production externalities.

Keywords: Search frictions, technology adoption

Abstract: This paper implements a Multivariate Weighted Nonlinear Least Square estimator for a class of jump-diffusion interest rate processes (hereafter MWNLS-JD), which also admit closed-form solutions to bond prices under a no-arbitrage argument. The instantaneous interest rate is modeled as a mixture of a square-root diffusion process and a Poisson jump process. One can derive analytically the first four conditional moments, which form the basis of the MWNLS-JD estimator. A diagnostic conditional moment test can also be constructed from the fitted moment conditions. The market prices of diffusion and jump risks are calibrated by minimizing the pricing errors between a model-implied yield curve and a target yield curve. The time series estimation of the short-term interest rate suggests that the jump augmentation is highly significant and that the pure diffusion process is strongly rejected. The cross-sectional evidence indicates that the jump-diffusion yield curves are both more flexible in reducing pricing errors and are more consistent with the Martingale pricing principle.

Keywords: Jump-diffusion, term structure of interest rates, conditional moment generator, multivariate weighted nonlinear least square, market price of risk

feds 2001-27
July 2001

The Hidden Dangers of Historical Simulation (PDF)

Wayne Passmore, Roger Sparks, and Jamie Ingpen

Abstract: Many large financial institutions compute the Value-at-Risk (VaR) of their trading portfolios using historical simulation based methods, but the methods' properties are not well understood. This paper theoretically and empirically examines the historical simulation method, a variant of historical simulation introduced by Boudoukh, Richardson and Whitelaw (1998) (BRW), and the Filtered Historical Simulation method (FHS) of Barone-Adesi, Giannopoulos, and Vosper (1999). The Historical Simulation and BRW methods are both under-responsive to changes in conditional risk; and respond to changes in risk in an asymmetric fashion: measured risk increases when the portfolio experiences large losses, but not when it earns large gains. The FHS method appears promising, but requires additional refinement to account for time-varying correlations; and to choose the appropriate length of historical sample period. Preliminary analysis suggests that 2 years of daily data may not contain enough extreme outliers to accurately compute 1% VaR at a 10-day horizon using the FHS method.

Keywords: Risk measurement, value at risk, GARCH

Full paper (2598 KB Postscript)

Abstract: Our paper compares mortgage securitization undertaken by government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) with that undertaken by private markets, with an emphasis on how each type of mortgage securitization affects mortgage rates. We build a model illustrating that market structure, government sponsorship, and the characteristics of the mortgages securitized are all important determinants of mortgage rates. We find that GSEs generally--but not always--lower mortgage rates, particularly when the GSEs behave competitively, because the GSEs' implicit government backing allows them to sell securities without the credit enhancements needed in the private sector. Using our simulation model, we demonstrate that when mortgages eligible for purchase by the GSEs have characteristics similar to other mortgages, then implicit government backing generates differences in mortgage rates that are similar to those currently observed in the mortgage market (which range between zero and fifty basis points). However, if the mortgages purchased by GSEs differ substantially from other mortgages and the GSEs behave competitively, the simulated spread in mortgage rates can be much larger than that observed in the data.

Keywords: Mortgage securitization, GSEs, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, mortgage rates

Abstract: The recent U.S. expansion has provided employment experience to individuals at tail of the skill distribution. Will these opportunities bestow persistent benefits in the form of greater future employability? Using synthetic cohorts constructed from the CPS, this paper estimates the degree of persistence in cohort-level employment rates in excess of persistence in aggregate macroeconomic conditions. This approach is in some ways superior to testing for hysteresis in the aggregate unemployment rate because it abstracts away from compositional changes in the labor force by focusing on particular demographic groups. After controlling for aggregate conditions, there is little evidence of significant persistence in cohorts' employment rates; the effects of aggregate shocks are essentially dissipated within three years. However, economic conditions that prevailed when the cohorts first entered the labor market significantly affect the average lifetime employment rate of cohorts of less-educated men.

Keywords: Hysteresis, employment persistence, panel data

feds 2001-24
May 2001

Anticipations of Monetary Policy in Financial Markets (PDF)

Joe Lange, Brian Sack, and William Whitesell

Abstract: In recent years, financial markets appear better able to anticipate FOMC policy changes. Beginning in the late 1980s and early 1990s, longer-term interest rates and futures rates have tended to incorporate movements in the federal funds rate several months in advance, in contrast to the largely contemporaneous response typically observed before that time. After identifying these emerging trends, the paper parses the enhanced predictability into a component that can be attributed to the autoregressive behavior of the funds rate and a non-autoregressive component. The paper considers institutional developments in FOMC policy making that may have contributed to each of these components, including gradualism in adjusting the federal funds rate target and transparency regarding the setting of the target and future policy intentions.

Keywords: Term structure, policy expectations, funds rate, monetary policy

feds 2001-23
May 2001

Does Stock Market Wealth Matter for Consumption? (PDF)

Karen E. Dynan and Dean M. Maki

Abstract: This paper explores the household behavior that underlies the link between wealth and consumption at the aggregate level. One possibility is that changes in wealth directly cause changes in consumption through their effect on households' contemporaneous budget sets; another possibility is that they merely predict changes in consumption because they signal changes in future income. Based on analysis of household-level data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey, we find that direct wealth effects begin to show up relatively quickly and continue to boost consumption growth for a number of quarters, in line with aggregate estimates. In contrast, we find that the indirect wealth channel is not an important determinant of consumption growth. We also estimate that an additional dollar of wealth leads households with moderate securities holdings to increase consumption between 5 cents and 15 cents, with the most likely gain in the lower part of this range.

Keywords: Consumption, saving, wealth effects

Abstract: Much research is needed to implement a supervisory surveillance system for banking organizations that relies on subordinated debt and other market data. This paper is germane to that task. We find subordinated debt spreads are most consistent across data sources for the most liquid bonds (i.e., those of relatively large issuance size, relatively young age, issued by relatively large firms) traded in a relatively robust overall bond market. We also find there is a high degree of concordance in rankings of firms by their minimum spreads across bonds with especially strong agreement about which large firms are in the tails of the spread distribution at each point in time. Our time-series results support and provide guidance for the use of subordinated debt spreads in supervisory monitoring, support the need for careful judgment when interpreting such spreads, highlight difficulties with currently available data sources, and motivate the need for further research.

Keywords: Bonds, subordinated debt, bank holding companies, monitoring, data quality

Abstract: In the U.S., household net worth rose substantially in the latter half of the 1990s and the personal saving rate dropped sharply. Researchers do not agree about just what behavior links these two events, or how to interpret the negative correlation between wealth and the saving rate over a longer time span. In this paper, we combine household-level data from the triennial Survey of Consumer Finances with quarterly, aggregate data from the Flow of Funds Accounts to estimate net worth and saving for different cohorts of households in the 1990s. We find that the groups of households whose balance sheets were boosted the most by surging equity prices were also the groups that substantially decreased their saving rates. Further, econometric analysis of these data produces propensities to consume out of wealth in the range of typical estimates obtained from aggregate data. Taken together, our results corroborate a direct view of the wealth effect on consumption.

Keywords: Consumption function, wealth effect, household saving behavior

feds 2001-20
April 2001

The Production-Side Approach to Estimating Embodied Technological Change (PDF)

Plutarchos Sakellaris and Daniel J. Wilson

Abstract: We estimate the rate of embodied technological change directly from plant-level manufacturing data on current output and input choices along with histories on their vintages of equipment investment. Our estimates range between 8 and 17 percent for the typical U.S. manufacturing plant during the years 1972-1996. Any number in this range is substantially larger than is conventionally accepted with some important implications. First, the role of investment-specific technological change as an engine of growth is even larger than previously estimated. Second, existing producer durable price indices do not adequately account for quality change. As a result, measured capital stock growth is biased. Third, if accurate, the Hulten and Wykoff (1981) economic depreciation rates may primarily reflect obsolescence.

Keywords: Productivity growth, embodied technological change, equipment investment, plant, producer durable price index

Abstract: Despite the long economic expansion, employment among young men is lower today than it was in the late 1960s. This decline has been largely driven by a 17 percentage point reduction in the proportion of high school dropouts working even a single week per year. One common explanation for this trend, declining real wages, ignores the fact that the value of working today depends on future returns to experience. This paper estimates a model of labor supply with returns to experience as an explanatory variable, using data from the Current Population Survey. The classic myopic labor supply model (in which only the current wage matters) is rejected in favor of one that includes forward-looking considerations, embodied in returns to experience. For high school dropouts, decreasing returns to experience explain 30 percent of the decline in participation between 1967 and 1977. Changes in wages do not explain any of this trend.

Keywords: Labor supply, wage growth, labor force trends

Abstract: In order to measure the flexibility of the labor market, evaluate the job-worker matching process, and model business-cycle dynamics, economists have studied the flows of workers across the labor market states of employment, unemployment, and not in the labor force. One important flow that has been poorly measured is the movement of workers from one employer to another without any significant intervening period of nonemployment. This paper exploits the "dependent interviewing" techniques used in the Current Population Survey since 1994 to estimate such flows. We find that they are large, and their omission significantly understates the degree of mobility in the labor market. In 1999, for example, on average more than 4,000,000 workers changed employers from one month to the next, about the same number as left the labor force from employment and more than twice the number that moved from employment to unemployment. Close to half of the new jobs started in 1999 represented employer changes, as did close to half of the separations. Consistent with previous studies of younger workers, teenagers exhibit the highest rates of employer-switching, and the rate declines through about age 40. However, even among prime-aged workers, about 2 percent change employers each month. Contrary to the implications of many business cycle models, we find no evidence that employer-to-employer flows are procyclical, at least not as the labor market tightened between 1994 and 2000. This finding raises questions about the ways in which stylized facts about labor market flows have been used.

Keywords: Gross flows, accessions, separations, on-the-job search, turnover

Abstract: Event risk is the risk that a portfolio's value can be affected by large jumps in market prices. Event risk is synonymous with "fat tails" or "jump risk". Event risk is one component of "specific risk", defined by bank supervisors as the component of market risk not driven by market-wide shocks. Standard Value-at-Risk (VaR) models used by banks to measure market risk do not do a good job of capturing event risk. In this paper, I discuss the issues involved in incorporating event risk into VaR. To illustrate these issues, I develop a VaR model that incorporates event risk, which I call the Jump-VaR model. The Jump-VaR model uses any standard VaR model to handle "ordinary" price fluctuations and grafts on a simple model of price jumps. The effect is to "fatten" the tails of the distribution of portfolio returns that is used to estimate VaR, thus increasing VaR. I note that regulatory capital could rise or fall when jumps are added, since the increase in VaR would be offset by a decline in the regulatory capital multiplier on specific risk from 4 to 3. In an empirical application, I use the Jump-VaR model to compute VaR for two equity portfolios. I note that, in practice, special attention must be paid to the issues of correlated jumps and double-counting of jumps. As expected, the estimates of VaR increase when jumps are added. In some cases, the increases are substantial. As expected, VaR increases by more for the portfolio with more specific risk.

Keywords: Specific risk, market risk, jump risk, jump diffusion, default risk

feds 2001-16
April 2008

Market Definition in Banking: Recent Evidence (PDF)

Dean Amel and Martha Starr-McCluer

Abstract: Antitrust analysis of bank mergers defines banking markets to be geographically local and to consist of the cluster of financial products supplied by commercial banks. This definition is based on assumptions about households' and small businesses' behavior in purchasing banking services. This article utilizes data from the Survey of Consumer Finances to examine how households' use of financial services and institutions changed between 1989 and 1998. We investigate the extent to which households still focus their purchases of financial services at local depository institutions, as opposed to non-depository or distant institutions, and examine the extent to which purchases are clustered at a single institution. Overall, the results indicate that households continue, to a substantial degree, to obtain certain key asset services, notably checking accounts, at local depository institutions.

Keywords: Market definition, antitrust, banking

Abstract: From a credit risk perspective, little is known about the distress factors -- economy-wide or firm-specific -- that are important in explaining variations in defaultable coupon yields. This paper proposes and empirically tests a family of credit risk models. Empirically, we find that firm-specific distress factors play a role (beyond treasuries) in explaining defaultable coupon bond yields. Credit risk models that take into consideration leverage and book-to-market are found to reduce out-of-sample yield fitting errors (for the majority of firms). Moreover, the empirical evidence suggests that interest rate risk may be of first-order prominence for pricing and hedging. Measured by both out-of-sample pricing and hedging errors, the credit risk models perform relatively better for high grade bonds. Controlling for credit rating, the model performance is generally superior for longer maturity bonds compared to its shorter maturity counterparts. Using equity as an instrument reduces hedging errors. This paper provides an empirical investigation of credit risk models using observable economic factors.

Keywords: Credit risk, bond valuation, hedging

feds 2001-14
April 2001

Measuring the Reaction of Monetary Policy to the Stock Market (PDF)

Roberto Rigobon and Brian Sack

Abstract: Movements in the stock market can have a significant impact on the macroeconomy and are therefore likely to be an important factor in the determination of monetary policy. However, little is known about the magnitude of the Federal Reserve's reaction to the stock market. One reason is that it is difficult to estimate the policy reaction because of the simultaneous response of equity prices to interest rate changes. This paper uses an identification technique based on the heteroskedasticity of stock market returns to identify the reaction of monetary policy to the stock market. The results indicate that monetary policy reacts significantly to stock market movements, with a 5% rise (fall) in the S&P 500 index increasing the likelihood of a 25 basis point tightening (easing) by about a half. This reaction is roughly of the magnitude that would be expected from estimates of the impact of stock market movements on aggregate demand. Thus, it appears that the Federal Reserve systematically responds to stock price movements only to the extent warranted by their impact on the macroeconomy.

Keywords: Monetary policy, stock market, identification, heteroskedasticity

Abstract: The New Keynesian sticky-price model has become increasingly popular for monetary-policy analysis. However, there have been conflicting results on the empirical performance of the model. In this paper, I attempt to reconcile these conflicting claims by examining various specifications of the model within the context of a single framework. I find that the New Keynesian model does not fit the U.S. data well; in particular, the model requires additional lags of inflation not implied by the model under rational expectations. These additional lags have the interpretation that some fraction of the population uses a simple univariate rule for forecasting inflation.

Keywords: Inflation, Phillips curve, New Keynesian economics

Abstract: This paper derives and presents mean leads and lags as well as patterns of relative importance weights implied by the PAC (polynomial-adjustment-cost) error-correction equations which form the core of the FRB/US model at the Federal Reserve Board. Relative importance weights measure the contributions of past and future expected changes in fundamentals on current decisions. These and the associated mean lags and leads can be considered summary measures of key dynamic properties of FRB/US. The spending equations are those for total consumption, durables consumption, business equipment, residential housing, and private inventories. The pricing equations are those for the price level and wage growth. In addition FRB/US has one PAC equation for dividends and one for labor hours.

Keywords: Macro modeling, expectations, polynomial adjustment costs, error correction, mean lags and leads

Abstract: If current projections of future budget surpluses materialize, investing in Treasury securities--an asset class with which investors have long been familiar--could eventually become a thing of the past. In this paper, I examine the extent to which investors' portfolio allocation decisions are likely to be affected by the retirement of all federal government debt. The analysis suggests only small effects for most investors, especially, as is effectively the case for many institutional investors, when a no short sale constraint is in place. Under such circumstances, highly conservative investors--whose portfolios have risk-return characteristics akin to money market instruments--and very aggressive investors--who hold mostly equities--stand to be the least affected by the removal of Treasuries from the pool of investable assets. The analysis abstracts from indirect beneficial effects on investors from a Treasury debt payoff, such as the potential for greater productivity growth (and faster wealth accumulation) as more resources are freed up for investment in the private sector.

Keywords: CAPM, risk, corporate securities, government debt

feds 2001-10
June 2008

The Pavlovian Response of Term Rates to Fed Announcements (PDF)

Selva Demiralp and Oscar Jorda

Abstract: The traditional view of the monetary transmission mechanism rests on the premise that the Federal Reserve (Fed) controls the level of the federal funds rate via open market operations and the liquidity effect. By contrast, this paper argues that the Fed also manipulates the federal funds rate via public disclosures of the new level of the federal funds rate target and the "announcement effect." We define the announcement effect as the portion of interest rate movements associated with public statements on interest rate targets that do not require conventional open market operations for their support. This paper provides evidence on how the Fed uses the liquidity effect in conjunction with the announcement effect to execute monetary policy. In addition, it investigates the implications of the announcement effect in term structure behavior and the rational expectations hypothesis.

Keywords: Liquidity effect, announcement effect, term structure, marked point process

Abstract: This paper reviews the statistical approach typically applied by macroeconomists to investigate the empirical links among aggregate data on household consumption, income, and wealth. In particular, we focus on studies determining whether and how much changes in net worth, such as those generated by the stock-market boom in the U.S. over the latter 1990s, are responsible for subsequent swings in the growth rate of consumer spending. We show how simple economic theory is used to motivate an econometric strategy that consists of two stages of analysis. First, regressions are used to identify trend movements shared by consumption, income, and wealth over the long run, then deviations of these series from their commong long- run trends are used to help forecast consumption growth over the short run. Our discussion highlights the various judgments that researchers must make in the course of implementing this empirical approach, and we detail how specific parameter estimates describing the magnitude of the wealth effect on consumption--and even broad conclusions about its existence--are affected by making alternative choices.

Keywords: Consumption function, life cycle model

Abstract: In the second half of the 1990s, U.S. productivity growth moved up to rates not seen in several decades. In this paper, I use time-varying parameter techniques to isolate trend from cyclical movements in productivity and to obtain an estimate of the trend rate of productivity growth. I examine models both with and without an explicit role for capital accumulation. I find that in the models without an explicit role for capital accumulation, trend productivity growth is estimated to have moved up from around 1-1/2 percent in the period from the early 1970s to the mid 1990s, to about 2-1/2 percent by the final observation used in this paper, the second quarter of 2000. I find that if I allow for an explicit role for capital accumulation, the recent pace of trend productivity growth is even higher, at around 3 percent.

Keywords: Growth, productivity, new economy, time-varying parameter techniques

Abstract: We consider a neoclassical interpretation of Germany and Japan's rapid postwar growth that relies on a catch-up mechanism through capital accumulation where technology is embodied in new capital goods. Using a putty-clay model of production and investment, we are able to capture many of the key empirical properties of Germany and Japan's postwar transitions, including persistently high but declining rates of labor and total-factor productivity growth, a U-shaped response of the capital-output ratio, rising rates of investment and employment, and moderate rates of return to capital.

Keywords: Putty-clay, embodied technology, productivity growth, convergence

feds 2001-06
February 2001

Production Function Estimation With Industry Capacity Data (PDF)

Plutarchos Sakellaris

Abstract: This paper introduces a new data set for the analysis of productivity in U.S. manufacturing. It consists of data on production and input levels when the plants in an industry operate at capacity. The estimates are consistent with those obtained using data on actual operations from the ASM. As an application, I use this data to estimate the rate of growth of technological change that is embodied in equipment capital. The estimates imply a larger role of equipment investment and embodied technological change on economic growth than is conventionally assumed.

Keywords: Productive capacity, capacity utilization, productivity growth, embodied technological change, production function

feds 2001-05
February 2001

Patterns of Plant Adjustment (PDF)

Plutarchos Sakellaris

Abstract: This paper provides a description of the dynamic choices of manufacturing plants when they undertake rapid adjustment in output. The focus is on episodes that involve lumpy adjustment in capital or employment. I examine the behavior of variables such as capital utilization, hours per worker, overtime use, capacity utilization, materials and energy use. Finally I describe the observed patterns of productivity during those adjustment episodes and propose some hypotheses that seem to fit them. The costs associated with output adjustment seem to arise from building and destroying a particular organization of the structure of production and associated worker experience. As such they are related to learning-by-doing and investment in specific training.

Keywords: Capital investment, employment adjustment, capacity utilization, productivity, learning effects, specific training

feds 2001-04
January 2001

A Two-Sector Approach to Modeling U.S. NIPA Data (PDF)

Karl Whelan

Abstract: The one-sector Solow-Ramsey model is the most popular model of long-run economic growth. This paper argues that a two-sector approach, which distinguishes the durable goods sector from the rest of the economy, provides a far better picture of the long-run behavior of the U.S. economy. Real durable goods output has consistently grown faster than the rest of the economy. Because most investment spending is on durable goods, the one-sector model's hypothesis of balanced growth, so that the real aggregates for consumption, investment, output, and the capital stock all grow at the same rate in the long run, is rejected by U.S. data. In addition, to model these aggregates as currently constructed in the U.S. National Accounts, a two-sector approach is required. Implications for empirical macroeconomics are explored.

Keywords: Balanced growth, multisector models, chain aggregation

feds 2001-03
January 2001

The Effects of Geographic Expansion on Bank Efficiency (PDF)

Allen N. Berger and Robert DeYoung

Abstract: We assess the effects of geographic expansion on bank efficiency using cost and profit efficiency for over 7,000 U.S. banks, 1993-1998. We find that parent organizations exercise some control over the efficiency of their affiliates, although this control tends to dissipate with distance to the affiliate. However, on average, distance-related efficiency effects tend to be modest, suggesting that some efficient organizations can overcome any effects of distance. The results imply there may be no particular optimal geographic scope for banking organizations some may operate efficiently within a single region, while others may operate efficiently on a nationwide or international basis.

Keywords: Banks, efficiency, mergers, financial institutions

Abstract: This paper analyzes the optimality of reactive feedback rules advocated by neo-Keynesians, and constant money growth rules proposed by monetarists. The basis for this controversy is not merely a disagreement concerning sources and impacts of uncertainty in the economy, but also an apparent fundamental difference in the attitude toward uncertainty about models. To address these differences, this paper compares the relative reactiveness of a monetary policy instrument to conditioning information for two starkly differing versions of model uncertainty about the model and the data driving it: Bayesian uncertainty that assumes known probability distributions for a model's parameters and the data Knightian uncertainty that does not. In the latter case, the policy maker copes with extreme uncertainty by playing a mental game against "natuare," using minmax strategies. Contrary to common intuition, extreme uncertainty about a model's parameters does not necessarily imply less responsiveness to conditioning information--here represented by the lagged gap between nominal income growth and its trend--and it certainly does not justify constancy of money growth except in an extreme version of Brainard's (1967) result. A partial constant growth rule can be derived in only one special case: if the conditioning variable in the feedback rule is also uncertain in either Bayesian or Knightian senses and the authority used Neyman-Pearson likelihood ratio tests to distinguish noise from information with each new observation.

Keywords: Monetary policy. model uncertainty, minimax strategies, signal detection, Bayes' risk, Bayesian policy

feds 2001-01
January 2001

NAIRU Uncertainty and Nonlinear Policy Rules (PDF)

Laurence H. Meyer, Eric T. Swanson, and Volker W. Wieland

Abstract: Meyer (1999) has suggested that episodes of heightened uncertainty about the NAIRU may warrant a nonlinear policy response to changes in the unemployment rate. This paper offers a theoretical justification for such a nonlinear policy rule, and provides some empirical evidence on the relative performance of linear and nonlinear rules when there is heightened uncertainty about the NAIRU.

Keywords: Simple nonlinear policy rule, signal extraction with non-normal prior, nonlinear updating


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