Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis working papers are preliminary materials circulated to stimulate discussion and critical comment.
From Population Growth to TFP Growth
Using a firm-dynamics model that has been extended to include endogenous growth, we examine how population growth influences total factor productivity (TFP) growth. The most important theoretical result is that the shape of a business's productivity life-cycle profile determines the direction of the impact of population growth on TFP growth. Following that, the model is calibrated for Japan and the United States. The main finding of examining balanced growth paths (BGPs) with various rates of population growth is that the effect on TFP growth is sizable. Japan's expected decline in population growth from 1960 to 2060, for example, implies a 0.36-0.59 percentage point reduction in TFP growth over the long term. Finally, we compute transitions between BGPs and discover that changes in TFP growth are slow in reaction to population growth changes due to two short-run counterbalancing factors.
Heterogeneous Agents Dynamic Spatial General Equilibrium
I develop a dynamic model of migration and labor market choice with incomplete markets and uninsurable income risk to quantify the effects of international trade on workers’ employment reallocation, earnings, and wealth. Macroeconomic conditions in different labor markets and idiosyncratic shocks shape agents’ labor market choices, consumption, earnings, and asset accumulation over time. Despite the rich heterogeneity, the model is highly tractable as the optimal consumption, labor supply, capital accumulation, and migration and reallocation decisions of individual workers across different markets have closed-form expressions and can be aggregated. I study the asymmetric impact of international trade on the evolution of employment, earnings, and wealth, and decompose the frictions workers face to reallocate across U.S. sectors and regions into those with a transitory effect and those with long-lasting consequences.
Why Are the Wealthiest So Wealthy? A Longitudinal Empirical Investigation
We use Norwegian administrative panel data on wealth and income between 1993 and 2015 to study lifecycle wealth dynamics, focusing on the wealthiest households. On average, the wealthiest start their lives substantially richer than other households in the same cohort, own mostly private equity, earn higher returns, derive most of their income from dividends and capital gains, and save at higher rates. At age 50, the excess wealth of the top 0.1% group relative to mid-wealth households is accounted for in about equal terms by higher saving rates (34%), higher initial wealth (32%), and higher returns (27%), while higher labor income (5%) and inheritances (1%) account for the small residual. There is significant heterogeneity among the wealthiest: one-fourth of them—which we dub the “New Money”—start with negative wealth but experience rapid wealth growth early in life. Relative to the quartile of top owners that already started their life rich—the “Old Money”—the New Money are characterized by even higher saving rates and returns and also by higher labor income. Their excess wealth is mainly explained by higher saving rates (46%), higher returns (34%), and higher labor income (16%).
Earnings risk is central to economic analysis. While this risk is essentially subjective, it is typically inferred from administrative data. Following the lead of Dominitz and Manski (1997), we introduce a survey instrument to measure subjective earnings risk. We pay particular attention to the expected impact of job transitions on earnings. A link with administrative data provides multiple credibility checks. It also shows subjective earnings risk to be far lower than its administratively- estimated counterpart. This divergence arises because expected earnings growth is heterogeneous, even within narrow demographic and earnings cells. We calibrate a life-cycle model of search and matching to administrative data and compare the model-implied expectations with our survey instrument. This calibration produces far higher estimates of individual earnings risk than do our subjective expectations, regardless of age, earnings, and whether or not workers switch jobs. This divergence highlights the need for survey-based measures of subjective earnings risk.
Navigating the Waves of Global Shipping: Drivers and Aggregate Implications
This paper studies the drivers of global shipping dynamics and their aggregate implications. We document novel evidence on the dynamics of global shipping supply, demand, and prices. Motivated by this evidence, we set up a multi-country dynamic model of international trade with a global shipping market where shipping companies and importers endogenously determine shipping supply and prices. We find the model can successfully account for the dynamics of global shipping observed in the aftermath of COVID-19 and that accounting for these has important implications for the dynamics of aggregate economic activity.
Welfare-enhancing inflation and liquidity premia
The Friedman rule recommends eliminating liquidity premia on nominally risk-free government debt and following a deflationary monetary policy. The desirability of this prescription in a broad class of monetary models contrasts sharply with observation. In reality, the average rate of inflation is almost always positive and long-dated government securities are–as a matter of policy–allowed to trade at a discount relative to cash, even when these securities represent risk-free claims to cash. Our paper identifies a set of empirically-plausible conditions under which a strictly positive inflation and liquidity premium on long-dated government securities are both necessary to improve economic welfare. These conditions include: heterogeneous time-preferences, idiosyncratic risk over the timing of expenditure opportunities, and incomplete insurance markets. Our paper provides yet another rationale for a strictly positive inflation target and the use of penalty rates at central bank lending facilities.
On Trade Policy Preference and Offshoring Ties
This paper unpacks the role of the domestic content of imports as a novel source of policy interdependence along the global supply chain. We show how a rise in local contents embodied in imports can skew national trade policy preferences, and pull upstream and downstream countries in asymmetric ways with respect to (i) the nature of unilaterally optimal trade policy prescriptions, and (ii) the attractiveness of leveraging market access-based dispute settlement procedures. We discuss the pros and cons of deep trade integration as a remedy, involving well-enforced labor standards both upstream and downstream as an integral part of trade agreements.
Asset supply and liquidity transformation in HANK
We study how the financial sector affects fiscal and monetary policy in heterogeneous agent New Keynesian (HANK) economies. We show that, in a large class of models of financial intermediation, relevant features of the financial sector are summarized by the elasticities of a liquid asset supply function. The financial sector in these models affects aggregate responses only through its ability to perform liquidity transformation (i.e., issue liquid assets to finance illiquid capital). If liquid asset supply responds inelastically to returns on capital (low cross-price elasticities), disturbances in the liquid asset market generate large responses in aggregate demand through adjustments in capital prices. Assumptions about the financial sector are not innocuous quantitatively. In commonly used setups that imply different liquid asset supply elasticities, aggregate output responses to an unexpected deficit-financed government transfer can differ by a factor of three.
The Evolution of Regional Beveridge Curves
The slow recovery of the labor market in the aftermath of the Great Recession highlighted mismatch, the misallocation of workers across space or across industries. We consider the historical evolution of regional mismatch. We construct MSA-level unemployment rates and vacancy data using techniques similar to Barnichon (2010) and a new dataset of online help-wanted ads by MSA. We estimate regional Beveridge curves, identifying the slopes by restricting them to be equal across locations with similar labor market characteristics. We find that the 51 U.S. cities in our sample have four groupings which are influenced by industry classification, union membership, and geographic proximity. Additionally, allowing for a structural break suggests match efficiency increased across regions after adoption of the internet.
The Impact of Racial Segregation on College Attainment in Spatial Equilibrium
We incorporate race into an overlapping-generations spatial-equilibrium model with neighborhood spillovers. Race matters in two ways: (i) the Black-White wage gap and (ii) homophily—the preferences of individuals over the racial composition of their neighborhood. We find that these two forces generate a Black-White college gap of 22 percentage points, explaining about 80% of the college gap in the data for the St. Louis metro area. Counterfactual exercises show that the wage gap and homophily explain 7 and 18 percentage points of the college gap, respectively. A policy of equalizing school funding across neighborhoods reduces the college gap by almost 10 percentage points and generates large welfare gains.
Technology and the Task Content of Jobs across the Development Spectrum
The tasks workers perform on the job are informative about the direction and the impact of technological change. We harmonize occupational task content measures between two worker-level surveys, which separately cover developing and developed countries. Developing countries use routine-cognitive tasks and routine-manual tasks more intensively than developed countries, but less intensively use non-routine analytical tasks and non-routine interpersonal tasks. This is partly because developing countries have more workers in occupations with high routine contents and fewer workers in occupations with high non-routine contents. More important, a given occupation has more routine contents and less non-routine contents in developing countries than in developed countries. Since 2006, occupations with high non-routine contents gained employment relative to those with high routine contents in most countries, regardless of their income level or initial task intensity, indicating the global reaches of the technological change that reduces the demand for occupations with high routine contents.
TFP, Capital Deepening, and Gains from trade
We study welfare gains from trade in a dynamic, multicountry model with capital accumulation. We compute the exact transition paths for 93 countries following a permanent, uniform, unanticipated trade liberalization. We find that while the dynamic gains are different across countries, consumption transition paths look similar except for scale. In addition, dynamic gains accrue gradually and are about 60 percent of steady-state gains for every country. Finally, the contribution of capital accumulation to dynamic gains is four times that of TFP.
A Quantitative Theory of Relationship Lending
Banks' loan pricing decisions reflect the fact that borrowers tend to have long-lasting relationships with lenders. Therefore, pricing decisions have an inherently dynamic component: high interest rates may yield higher static profits per loan, but in the long run they erode a banks' customer base and reduce future profitability. We study this tradeoff using a dynamic banking model which embeds lending relationships using deep habits (“customer capital”) and costs of adjusting loan portfolio composition. High customer capital raises the level and decreases the interest rate elasticity of loan demand. When faced with an adverse shock to net worth, banks with high customer capital recapitalize quickly by charging high interest rates and eroding customer capital in the short term, while banks with low customer capital face persistent financial distress. Using Call Report data to measure the franchise value of banks' loan portfolios, we find that this effect has strong implications for how individual banks and the financial sector as a whole recover from shocks.
Financial market reactions to the Russian invasion of Ukraine
This article analyzes financial market reactions to the Russia-Ukraine war with a focus on the opening weeks. Markets did not completely anticipate the war and asset price reactions strengthened from the first week—when there were hopes for a quick resolution—to the second week, when prices generally peaked and began to partially revert to pre-war values. Exposure to commodity trade and trade with Russia-Ukraine determined market perceptions of the riskiness of equity and foreign exchange assets. Credit default swap prices on sovereign debt and breakeven inflation rates indicate that markets saw the war as a measurable fiscal risk even for non-belligerents.
An Elementary Model of VC Financing and Growth
This article uses an endogenous growth model to study how the improvements in financing for innovative start-ups brought by venture capital (VC) affect firm innovation and growth. Partial equilibrium results show how lending contracts change as financing efficiency improves, while general equilibrium results demonstrate that better screening and development of projects by VC investors leads to higher aggregate productivity growth.
The Economic Impact of COVID-19 around the World
For over two years, the world has been battling the health and economic consequences of the COVID‐19 pandemic. This paper provides an account of the worldwide economic impact of the COVID‐19 shock, measured by GDP growth, employment, government spending, monetary policy, and trade. We find that the COVID‐19 shock severely impacted output growth and employment in 2020, particularly in middle‐income countries. The government response, mainly consisting of increased expenditure, implied a rise in debt levels. Advanced countries, having easier access to credit markets, experienced the highest increase in indebtedness. All regions also relied on monetary policy to support the fiscal expansion. The specific circumstances surrounding the COVID‐19 shock implied that the expansionary fiscal and monetary policies did not put upward pressure on prices until 2021. We also find that the adverse effects of the COVID‐19 shock on output and prices have been significant and persistent, especially in emerging and developing countries.
EBITDA Add-backs in Debt Contracting: A Step Too Far?
Financial covenants in syndicated loan agreements often rely on definitions of EBITDA that deviate from the GAAP definition. We document the increased usage of non-GAAP addbacks to EBITDA in recent times. Using the 2013 Interagency Guidance on Leveraged Lending, which we argue led to an exogenous increase in non-GAAP EBITDA addbacks, we show that these addbacks increase the likelihood of loan delinquency and default, and also increase the likelihood of the borrower experiencing a ratings downgrade. Greater use of non-GAAP EBITDA addbacks also makes it more likely that lead arrangers lower their loan share exposures through secondary market sales. Our results highlight that covenants based on customized measures of EBITDA hurt loan performance by worsening lead arrangers’ incentives to monitor borrowers and by hampering their ability to take timely corrective actions.
COVID-19: fiscal implications and financial stability in developing countries
The COVID-19 pandemic is unlike any other crisis that we have experienced in that it hit all economies in the world at the same time, compromising the risk sharing ability of nations. At the onset of the pandemic, the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) jointly pledged 1.16 trillion dollars to help emerging economies deal with COVID-19. Would this amount have been enough to preserve financial stability in a worst case scenario? What were the fiscal implications of the pandemic? In this paper we aim to answer these questions by documenting the size of the fiscal measures implemented by different countries, the aid they received from the IMF and the WB to finance those fiscal measures, the resulting changes in gross debt, debt composition and maturity, and fiscal deficits. We find that given the amount of debt that was maturing in Asia and Latin America in 2020 and 2021, if there had been a rollover crisis due to lack of demand for their newly issued debt, then what was pledge by the WB and IMF at the onset of the pandemic would not have been enough to preserve financial stability. However, there was no rollover crisis, and although fiscal deficits got considerable worse in 2020, they improved in 2021, albeit, leaving gross debt at higher levels than those observed pre-pandemic.
Labor Force Exiters around Recessions: Who Are They?
This paper identifies workers who experience a job separation during a recession and tracks their labor force status in the following year using the Current Population Survey. Workers are classified as exiters if they leave the labor force shortly after their job loss and non-exiters if they do not. The pool of exiters is disproportionately female, less-educated, and older. During the pandemic recession, there were even more older workers in the exiters pool, although they were less likely to report being retired compared to in the Great Recession. In addition, statuses were more persistent during the Great Recession: for both exiters and non-exiters the majority were in the same labor force status a year later. I then use the patterns of these samples of job-separators to estimate the propensity of being re-employed in a year and apply the estimates to the general out-of-work pools during the two recessions. I find that changes in the likelihood of being re-employed as well as the composition of individuals out of work are important for understanding the differences between the labor market in the two recessions.
Causes and Consequences of Student-College Mismatch
College admissions are highly meritocratic in the U.S. today. It is not the case in many other countries. What is the tradeoff? On one hand, meritocracy produces more human capital overall if higher ability students learn more in college and if they learn more in higher quality colleges. This leads to a higher overall level of earnings (i.e. greater efficiency, loosely speaking). On the other hand, more meritocracy generates a higher degree of earnings inequality. In this paper, we quantify this efficiency-equality tradeoff. Our results suggest small efficiency losses/gains from student reassignment across colleges, suggesting it as an effective policy for fighting inequality and/or altering intergenerational mobility.
We employ the Ben-Porath (1967) human capital model to study the evolution of the gender wage gap over the long run. We consider the effect of changing lifecycle profiles of female market hours. We find that the implied response in unobserved investment in human capital accumulation accounts for most of the long run gender wage gap dynamics. This finding is consistent with the labor economists’ view that changing selection on unobservables played a critical role in the gender wage gap dynamics. Our contribution is to make explicit and quantify the link between market hours and (unobserved) investment in human capital.
Dissecting Idiosyncratic Earnings Risk
This paper examines whether nonlinear and non-Gaussian features of earnings dynamics are caused by hours or hourly wages. Our findings from the Norwegian administrative and survey data are as follows: (i) Nonlinear mean reversion in earnings is driven by the dynamics of hours worked rather than wages since wage dynamics are close to linear, while hours dynamics are nonlinear—negative changes to hours are transitory, while positive changes are persistent. (ii) Large earnings changes are driven equally by hours and wages, whereas small changes are associated mainly with wage shocks. (iii) Both wages and hours contribute to negative skewness and high kurtosis for earnings changes, although hour-wage interactions are quantitatively more important. (iv) When considering household earnings and disposable household income, the deviations from normality are mitigated relative to individual labor earnings: changes in disposable household income are approximately symmetric and less leptokurtic.
Voluntary participation in a terror group and counterterrorism policy
A three-stage game investigates how counterterrorism measures are affected by volunteers’ choice in joining a terrorist group. In stage 1, the government chooses both proactive and defensive countermeasures, while looking ahead to the anticipated size and actions of terrorist groups. After radicalized individuals choose whether to join a terrorist group in stage 2, group members then allocate their time between work and terrorist operations. Based on wages and government counterterrorism, the game characterizes the extensive margin determining group size and the intensive margin indicating the group’s level of attacks. Comparative statics show how changes in wages or radicalization impact the optimal mix between defensive and proactive countermeasures. Higher (lower) wages favor a larger (smaller) mix of proactive measures over defensive actions. In the absence of backlash, enhanced radicalization of terrorist members calls for a greater reliance on defensive actions. The influence of backlash on counterterrorism is also examined.
Liquidity and Investment in General Equilibrium
This paper studies the implications of trading frictions in financial markets for firms' investment and dividend choices and their aggregate consequences. When equity shares trade in frictional asset markets, the firm's problem is time-inconsistent, and it is as if it faces quasi-hyperbolic discounting. The transmission of trading frictions to the real economy crucially depends on the firms' ability to commit. In a calibrated economy without commitment, larger trading frictions imply lower capital and production. In contrast, if firms can commit, trading frictions affect asset prices but have no effect on capital and production. Our findings rationalize several empirical regularities on liquidity and investment.
When firms decide to post a vacancy they can hire from the pool of unemployed workers or they can poach a worker from another firm. In this paper we show that if there are two different matching processes, one for unemployed workers and another one for job-to-job transitions, then implications for the Beveridge curve are potentially very different, influencing the effects of monetary policy on unemployment. We show that over the years the hiring process and how job postings are used as an input into this process has changed dramatically.
Interbank Networks and the Interregional Transmission of Financial Crises: Evidence from the Panic of 1907
This paper provides quantitative evidence on the interbank network’s role in transmitting the Panic of 1907 and ensuing recession across the United States. Originating in a few New York City banks and trust companies, the panic led to payment suspensions and emergency currency issuance in many cities. Data on the universe of correspondent relationships shows that i) suspensions were more likely in cities whose banks had closer ties to banks at the center of the panic, ii) banks with such links were more likely to close, and iii) banks responded to the panic by rearranging their correspondent relationships, with implications for network structure.
Demand-Supply imbalance during the COVID-19 pandemic: The role of fiscal policy
To mitigate the health and economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, governments worldwide engaged in massive fiscal support programs. We show that generous fiscal support is associated with an increase in the demand for consumption goods during the pandemic, but industrial production did not adjust quickly enough to meet the sharp increase in demand. This imbalance between supply and demand across countries contributed to high inflation. Our findings suggest a sizable role for fiscal policy in affecting price stability, above and beyond what a monetary authority can do.
Policy Rules and Large Crises in Emerging Markets
Emerging countries have increasingly adopted rules to discipline government policy. The COVID-19 shock lead to widespread suspension and modification of these rules. We study rules and flexibility in a sovereign default model with domestic fiscal and monetary policies and long-term external debt. We find welfare gains from adopting monetary targets and debt limits during normal times. Though government policy cannot itself counteract fundamental shocks hitting the economy, the adoption of rules has a significant impact on policy, macroeconomic outcomes and welfare during large, unexpected crises. We also find moderate gains from suspending monetary targets during a crisis and large losses from abandoning debt limits.
Shipping Prices and Import Price Inflation
During the pandemic there have been unprecedented increases in the cost of shipping goods accompanied by delays and backlogs at the ports. At the same time, import price inflation has reached levels unseen since the early 1980s. This has led many to speculate that the two trends are linked. In this article, we use new data on the price of shipping goods between countries to analyze the extent to which increases in the price of shipping can account for the increase in U.S. import price inflation. We find that the pass-through of shipping costs is small. Nevertheless, because the rise in shipping prices has been so extreme, it can account for between 3.60 and 5.87 percentage points per year of the increase in import price inflation during the post-Pandemic period.
Labor Market Shocks and Monetary Policy
We develop a heterogeneous-agent New Keynesian model featuring a frictional labor market with on-the-job search to quantitatively study the role of worker flows in inflation dynamics and monetary policy. Motivated by our empirical finding that the historical negative correlation between the unemployment rate and the employer-to-employer (EE) transition rate up to the Great Recession disappeared during the recovery, we use the model to quantify the effect of EE transitions on inflation in this period. We find that the four-quarter inflation rate would have been 0.6 percentage points higher between 2016 and 2019 if the EE rate increased commensurately with the decline in unemployment. We then decompose the channels through which a change in EE transitions affects inflation. We show that an increase in the EE rate leads to an increase in the real marginal cost, but the direct effect is partially mitigated by the equilibrium decline in market tightness through aggregate demand that exerts downward pressure on the marginal cost. Finally, we study the normative implications of job mobility for monetary policy responding to inflation and labor market variables according to a Taylor rule, and find that the welfare cost of ignoring the EE rate in setting the nominal interest rate is 0.2 percent in additional lifetime consumption.