FRB: Working PapersenFEDS 2020-028: Sowing the Seeds of Financial Imbalances: The Role of Macroeconomic PerformanceElena Afanasyeva, Sam Jerow, Seung Jung Lee, and Michele Modugno | The seeds of financial imbalances are sown in times of buoyant economic growth. We study the link between macroeconomic performance and financial imbalances, focusing on the experience of the United States since the 1960s. We first follow a narrative approach to review historical episodes of significant financial imbalances and find that the onset of financial disturbances typically occurs when the economy is running hot. We then look for evidence of a statistical link between measures of macroeconomic conditions and financial imbalances. In our in-sample analysis, we find that strong economic growth is followed by a build-up of financial imbalances across all dimensions of the National Financial Conditions Index. In our out-of-sample analysis, we find that the link between strong economic performance and increases in nonfinancial leverage is particularly strong and robust. Using a structural VAR identified with narrative sign restrictions, we also demonstrate that business cycle shocks are important drivers of non financial leverage.]]>FEDS PaperIFDP 2020-1276: Sovereign Risk Matters: The Effects of Endogenous Default Risk on the Time-Varying Volatility of Interest Rate SpreadsEnrico Mallucci | Emerging market interest rate spreads display substantial time-varying volatility. We show that a baseline model with endogenous sovereign default risk can account for such volatility, even in the absence of shocks to the second moments of the exogenous stochastic variables. In particular, the model features a key non-linearity that allows it to replicate the volatility of interest rate spreads and its comovement with other economic variables. Volatility correlates positively with the level of the spreads and the trade balance and negatively with output and consumption.]]>IFDP PaperFEDS 2019-073: Rare Disaster Probability and Options-Pricing(Revised)Gordon Y. Liao | We derive an option-pricing formula from recursive preferences and estimate rare disaster probability. The new options-pricing formula applies to far-out-of-the money put options on the stock market when disaster risk dominates, the size distribution of disasters follows a power law, and the economy has a representative agent with a constant-relative-risk-aversion utility function. The formula conforms with options data on the S&P 500 index from 1983-2018 and for analogous indices for other countries. The disaster probability, inferred from monthly fixed effects, is highly correlated across countries, peaks during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, and forecasts rates of economic growth. Accessible materials (.zip)

Original paper: PDF]]>FEDS PaperFEDS 2020-027: Dynamic Beveridge Curve AccountingHie Joo Ahn and Leland D. Crane | We develop a dynamic decomposition of the empirical Beveridge curve, i.e., the level of vacancies conditional on unemployment. Using a standard model, we show that three factors can shift the Beveridge curve: reduced-form matching efficiency, changes in the job separation rate, and out-of-steady-state dynamics. We find that the shift in the Beveridge curve during and after the Great Recession was due to all three factors, and each factor taken separately had a large effect. Comparing the pre-2010 period to the post-2010 period, a fall in matching efficiency and out-of-steady-state dynamics both pushed the curve upward, while the changes in the separations rate pushed the curve downward. The net effect was the observed upward shift in vacancies given unemployment. In previous recessions changes in matching efficiency were relatively unimportant, while dynamics and the separations rate had more impact. Thus, the unusual feature of the Great Recession was the deterioration in matching efficiency, while separations and dynamics have played significant, partially offsetting roles in most downturns. The importance of these latter two margins contrasts with much of the literature, which abstracts from one or both of them. We show that these factors affect the slope of the empirical Beveridge curve, an important quantity in recent welfare analyses estimating the natural rate of unemployment.]]>FEDS PaperFEDS 2020-026: When is the Fiscal Multiplier High? A Comparison of Four Business Cycle PhasesTravis Berge, Maarten De Ridder and Damjan Pfajfar | We synthesize the recent, at times conflicting, empirical literature regarding whether fiscal policy is more effective during certain points in the business cycle. Evidence of state dependence in the multiplier depends critically on how the business cycle is defined. Estimates of the fiscal multiplier do not change when the unemployment rate is above or below its trend. However, we find that the multiplier is higher when the unemployment rate is increasing relative to when it is decreasing. This result holds using both a long time-series at the U.S. national level and for a panel of U.S. states.]]>FEDS PaperFEDS 2020-025: Costly Commuting and the Job LadderJean Flemming | Even though workers in the UK spent just 1,000 pounds on commuting in 2017, the economic loss may be far higher because of the congestion externality arising from the way in which one worker's commute affects the commuting time of others. I provide empirical evidence that commuting time affects job acceptance, pointing to large indirect costs of congestion. To interpret the empirical facts and quantify the costs of congestion, I build a model featuring a frictional labor market within a metropolitan area. By endogenizing commuting congestion in a labor search model, the model connects labor market responses to urban policies. Workers evaluate job offers based on their productivity and commuting costs, taking congestion as given, but by accepting and commuting to distant jobs, affect other workers' labor market outcomes. Through this mechanism, equilibrium moving decisions, housing rent, and wages are tightly linked to congestion. Calibrating the model to the local la bor market around London, I show that the effect of the congestion externality is to significantly decrease welfare and increase wage inequality. I quantify the effects of a congestion tax on labor market outcomes, and show that the welfare-maximizing tax has substantial negative effects on inequality, but comes at a cost of higher unemployment.]]>FEDS PaperIFDP 2018-1240: News and Uncertainty Shocks(Revised)Danilo Cascaldi-Garcia and Ana Beatriz Galvao | We provide novel evidence that technological news and uncertainty shocks, identified one at a time using VAR models as in the literature, are correlated; that is, they are not truly structural. We then proceed by proposing an identification scheme to disentangle the effects of news and financial uncertainty shocks. We find that by removing uncertainty effects from news shocks, the positive responses of economic activity to news shocks are strengthened in the short term; and that the negative responses of activity to financial uncertainty shocks are deepened in the medium term as `good uncertainty' effects on technology are purged.

Original paper: PDF | Accessible materials (.zip)]]>IFDP PaperFEDS 2020-024: Common and idiosyncratic inflationMatteo Luciani | We use a dynamic factor model to disentangle changes in prices due to economy-wide (common) shocks, from changes in prices due to idiosyncratic shocks. Using 146 disaggregated individual price series from the U.S. PCE price index, we find that most of the fluctuations in core PCE prices observed since 2010 have been idiosyncratic in nature. Moreover, we find that common core inflation responds to economic slack, while the idiosyncratic component does not. That said, even after filtering out idiosyncratic factors, the estimated Phillips curve is extremely flat post-1995. Therefore, our results suggest that the flattening of the Phillips curve is the result of macroeconomic forces.]]>FEDS PaperFEDS 2020-023: Online Estimation of DSGE ModelsEdward Herbst, Ethan Matlin, Reca Sarfati, and Frank Schorfheide | This paper illustrates the usefulness of sequential Monte Carlo (SMC) methods in approximating DSGE model posterior distributions. We show how the tempering schedule can be chosen adaptively, document the accuracy and runtime benefits of generalized data tempering for "online" estimation (that is, re-estimating a model asnew data become available), and provide examples of multimodal posteriors that are well captured by SMC methods. We then use the online estimation of the DSGE model to compute pseudo-out-of-sample density forecasts and study the sensitivity ofthe predictive performance to changes in the prior distribution. We find that making priors less informative (compared to the benchmark priors used in the literature) by increasing the prior variance does not lead to a deterioration of forecast accuracy.]]>FEDS PaperIFDP 2020-1275: Avoiding Sovereign Default Contagion: A Normative AnalysisEnrico Mallucci | Should debtor countries support each other during sovereign debt crises? We answer this question through the lens of a two-country sovereign-default model that we calibrate to the euro-area periphery. First, we look at cross-country bailouts. We find that whenever agents anticipate their existence, bailouts induce moral hazard an reduce welfare. Second, we look at the borrowing choices of a global central borrower. We find that it borrows less than individual governments and, as such, defaults become less frequent and welfare increases. Finally, we show that central borrower's policies can be replicated in a decentralized setting with Pigouvian taxes on debt.]]>IFDP PaperFEDS 2020-022: The Fed's "Ample-Reserves" Approach to Implementing Monetary PolicyJane Ihrig, Zeynep Senyuz, and Gretchen C. Weinbach | We describe the Federal Reserve's (the Fed's) approach to implementing monetary policy in an ample-reserves regime. We use a stylized model to explain the factors the Fed considers and the tools it uses to ensure interest rate control when the quantity of reserves is ample. Then, we take a close look at the Fed's experience operating in this regime in the post-crisis period, both as it has raised and lowered its policy rate. Looking ahead, we highlight some considerations relevant for maintaining a level of reserves consistent with the efficient and effective implementation of monetary policy, and conclude with an overview of the benefits of an ample-reserves regime. This primer is intended to enhance discussions and understanding of the Fed's actions and communications regarding monetary policy implementation, as many resources on this topic may be out of date given the recent evolution of the policy environment.]]>FEDS PaperIFDP 2020-1274: How Much Will the Belt and Road Initiative Reduce Trade Costs?François de Soyres, Alen Mulabdic, Siobhan Murray, Nadia Rocha, and Michele Ruta | This paper studies the impact of transport infrastructure projects of the Belt and Road Initiative on shipment times and trade costs. Based on a new data on completed and planned Belt and Road transport projects, Geographic Information System analysis is used to estimate shipment times before and after the Belt and Road Initiative. Two sets of data are computed to address different research questions: a global database based on an analysis of 1,000 cities in 191 countries and 47 sectors and a regional database that focuses on more granular information (1,818 cities) for Belt and Road economies only. The paper uses sectoral estimates of “value of time” to transform changes in shipment times into changes in ad valorem trade costs at the country‐sector level. The findings show that the Belt and Road Initiative will significantly reduce shipment times and trade costs. For the world, the average reduction in shipment time will range between 1.2 and 2.5 percent, leading to reduction of aggregate trade costs between 1.1 and 2.2 percent. For Belt and Road economies, the change in shipment times and trade costs will range between 1.7 and 3.2 percent and 1.5 and 2.8 percent, respectively. Belt and Road economies located along the corridors where projects are built experience the largest gains. Shipment times along these corridors decline by up to 11.9 percent and trade costs by up to 10.2 percent.]]>IFDP PaperIFDP 2020-1273: Common Transport Infrastructure: A Quantitative Model and Estimates from the Belt and Road InitiativeFrançois de Soyres, Alen Mulabdic, and Michele Ruta | This paper presents a structural general equilibrium model to analyze the effects on trade, welfare, and gross domestic product of common transport infrastructure. The model builds on Caliendo and Parro (2015) to allow for changes in trade costs due to improvements in transportation infrastructure, financed through domestic taxation, connecting multiple countries. The model highlights the trade impact of infrastructure investments through cross-border input-output linkages. This framework is then used to quantify the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative. Using new estimates on the effects on trade costs of transport infrastructure related to the initiative, the model shows that gross domestic product will increase by up to 3.4 percent for participating countries and by up to 2.9 percent for the world. Because trade gains are not commensurate with projected investments, some countries may experience a negative welfare effect due to the high cost of the infrastructure.]]>IFDP PaperFEDS 2020-021: The Increasing Deflationary Influence of Consumer Digital Access Services(Revised)David M. Byrne and Carol A. Corrado | Consumer digital access services—internet, mobile phone, cable TV, and streaming—accounted for over 2 percent of U.S. household consumption in 2018. We construct prices for these services using direct measures of volume (data transmitted, talk time, and hours of programming). Our price index fell 12 percent per year from 1988 to 2018 while official prices moved up modestly. Using our digital services index, we estimate total personal consumption expenditure (PCE) prices have risen nearly 1/2 percentage point slower than the official index since 2008. Importantly, the spread between alternative and official PCE price inflation has increased noticeably over time.

Original paper: PDF]]>FEDS PaperIFDP 2020-1272: Piecewise-Linear Approximations and Filtering for DSGE Models with Occasionally Binding ConstraintsPablo Cuba-Borda, Kenji Higa-Flores, Frank Schorfheide, and Sergio Villalvazo | We develop an algorithm to construct approximate decision rules that are piecewise-linear and continuous for DSGE models with an occasionally binding constraint. The functional form of the decision rules allows us to derive a conditionally optimal particle filter (COPF) for the evaluation of the likelihood function that exploits the structure of the solution. We document the accuracy of the likelihood approximation and embed it into a particle Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithm to conduct Bayesian estimation. Compared with a standard bootstrap particle filter, the COPF significantly reduces the persistence of the Markov chain, improves the accuracy of Monte Carlo approximations of posterior moments, and drastically speeds up computations. We use the techniques to estimate a small-scale DSGE model to assess the effects of the government spending portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 when interest rates reached the zero lower bound.]]>IFDP Paper