Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis working papers are preliminary materials circulated to stimulate discussion and critial comment.
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.
This study introduces a dual vacancy model to explain the recent anomalous behavior of the Beveridge curve. The model proposes that job vacancies are partitioned into two categories, one for the unemployed and the other for job-to-job transitions, and that they function in separate markets. We estimate the monthly numbers of both job vacancy types for the U.S. economy and its subsectors starting from 2000 and find a significant surge in poaching vacancies in the mid-2010s. Our analysis indicates that the dual vacancy model provides a better fit to the data than traditional models. These findings suggest that a deceleration in worker demand can have a reduced impact on unemployment, with implications for monetary policy.
Interbank Networks and the Interregional Transmission of Financial Crises: Evidence from the Panic of 1907
This paper provides quantitative evidence on interbank transmission of financial distress in the Panic of 1907 and ensuing recession. Originating in New York City, the panic led to payment suspensions and emergency currency issuance in many cities. Data on the universe of interbank connections show that i) suspension was 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 in the panic and recession, 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.
Age and Gender Differentials in Unemployment and Hysteresis
We use a time-varying panel unobserved components model to estimate unemployment gaps disaggregated by age and gender. Recessions before COVID affected men's labor market outcomes more than women's; however, the reverse was true for the COVID recession, with effects amplified for younger workers. The aggregate Phillips curve flattens over time and hysteresis is countercyclical for all groups. We find heterogeneity in both the Phillips curve and hysteresis coefficients, with wages responding more to workers with an outside option (high school- and retirement-age) and larger effects of hysteresis for younger workers.
The Sine Aggregatio Approach to Applied Macro
We develop a method to use disaggregate data to conduct causal inference in macroeconomics. The approach permits one to infer the aggregate effect of a macro treatment using regional outcome data and a valid instrument. We estimate a macro effect without (sine) the aggregation (aggregatio) of the outcome variable. We exploit cross-equation parameter restrictions to increase precision relative to traditional, aggregate series estimates and provide a method to assess robustness to departures from these restrictions. We illustrate our method via estimating the jobs effect of oil price changes using regional manufacturing employment data and an aggregate oil supply shock.
Private Information and Optimal Infant Industry Protection
We study infant industry protection using a dynamic model in which the industry's cost is initially higher than that of foreign competitors. The industry can stochastically lower its cost via learning by doing. Whether the industry has transitioned to low cost is private information. We use a mechanism-design approach to induce the industry to reveal its true cost. We show that (i) the optimal protection, measured by infant industry output, declines over time and is less than that under public information, (ii) the optimal protection policy is time consistent under public information but not under private information, (iii) the optimal protection policy can be implemented with minimal information requirements, and (iv) a government with a limited budget can use a simple approach to choose which industries to protect.
Employer Reallocation During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Validation and Application of a Do-It-Yourself CPS
Economists have recently begun using independent online surveys to collect national labor market data. Questions remain over the quality of such data. This paper provides an approach to address these concerns. Our case study is the Real-Time Population Survey (RPS), a novel online survey of the US built around the Current Population Survey (CPS). The RPS replicates core components of the CPS, ensuring comparable measures that allow us to weight and rigorously validate our results using a high-quality benchmark. At the same time, special questions in the RPS yield novel information regarding employer reallocation during the COVID-19 pandemic. We document that 26% of pre-pandemic workers were working for a new employer one year into the COVID-19 outbreak in the US, at least double the rate of any previous episode in the past quarter century. Our discussion contains practical suggestions for the design of novel labor market surveys and highlights other promising applications of our methodology.
Did Doubling Reserve Requirements Cause the 1937-38 Recession? New Evidence on the Impact of Reserve Requirements on Bank Reserve Demand and Lending
In 1936-37, the Federal Reserve doubled member banks' reserve requirements. Friedman and Schwartz (1963) famously argued that the doubling increased reserve demand and forced the money supply to contract, which they argued caused the recession of 1937-38. Using a new database on individual banks, we show that higher reserve requirements did not generally increase banks' reserve demand or contract lending because reserve requirements were not binding for most banks. Aggregate effects on credit supply from reserve requirement increases were therefore economically small and statistically zero.
The Jobs Effect of Ending Pandemic Unemployment Benefits: A State-Level Analysis
This paper uses the asynchronous cessation of emergency unemployment benefits (EUB) in 2021 to investigate the jobs impact of ending unemployment benefits. While some states stopped providing EUB in September, others stopped as early as June. Using the cessation month as an instrument, we estimate the effect on employment of reducing unemployment rolls. In the second month following a state’s program termination, for every 100 person reduction in beneficiaries, state employment causally increased by about 27 persons. The effect is statistically different from zero and robust to a wide array of alternative specifications.
The Ramsey Steady-State Conundrum in Heterogeneous-Agent Economies
In infinite horizon, heterogeneous-agent and incomplete-market models, the existence of an interior Ramsey steady state is often assumed instead of proven. This paper makes two fundamental contributions: (i) We prove that the interior Ramsey steady state assumed by Aiyagari (1995) does not exist in the standard Aiyagari model. Specifically, a steady state featuring the modified golden rule and a positive capital tax is feasible but not optimal. (ii) We design a modified, analytically tractable version of the standard Aiyagari model to unveil the necessary and/or sufficient conditions for the existence of a Ramsey steady state. These conditions are shown to be quite demanding and sensitive to structural parameter values pertaining to the economy's fiscal space for providing full self-insurance, such as the government's capacity to finance public debt, the degree of intertemporal elasticity of substitution, and the extent of history dependence of individual wealth on idiosyncratic shocks. In addition, we characterize the basic properties of both interior and non-interior Ramsey steady states and show that researchers may draw fundamentally misleading conclusions on optimal fiscal policies (such as the optimal capital tax rate) from their analysis when an interior Ramsey steady state is erroneously assumed to exist.
Work from Home Before and After the COVID-19 Outbreak
Based on novel survey data, we document a persistent rise in work from home (WFH) over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Using theory and direct survey evidence, we argue that three quarters of this increase reflects adoption of new work arrangements that will likely be permanent for many workers. A quantitative model matched to survey data predicts that twice as many workers will WFH full-time post-pandemic compared to pre-pandemic, and that one in every five instead of seven workdays will be WFH. These model predictions are consistent with survey evidence on workers' own expectations about WFH in the future.
Politically influenced counterterrorism policy and welfare efficiency
The paper examines how two targeted countries strategically deploy their counterterror forces when lobbying defense firms influence counterterror provision. For proactive measures, lobbying activities in a single targeted country lessen underprovision, raise overall counterterrorism, and reduce terrorism. Welfare decreases in the politically influenced country but increases in the other targeted country owing to enhanced free riding. Lobbying influence on the targeted countries’ welfare is tied to terrorists’ targeting preferences and how the lobbied government weighs citizens’ welfare. For key parametric values, lobbying in both targeted countries may result in the first-best equilibrium. With two-country lobbying, international policy coordination by at-risk governments may lead, surprisingly, to less efficient outcomes than the noncooperative equilibrium. Additionally, lobby-influenced defensive countermeasures generally affect efficiency adversely.
Structural Change in Labor Supply and Cross-Country Differences in Hours Worked
This paper studies how structural change in labor supply along the development spectrum shapes cross-country differences in hours worked. We emphasize two main forces: sectoral reallocation from self-employment to wage work, and declining fixed costs of wage work. We show that these forces are crucial for understanding how the extensive margin (the employment rate) and intensive margin (hours per worker) of aggregate hours worked vary with income per capita. To do so we build and estimate a quantitative model of labor supply featuring a traditional self-employment sector and a modern wage-employment sector. When estimated to match cross-country data, the model predicts that sectoral reallocation explains more than half of the total hours decrease at lower levels of development. Declining fixed costs drive the rise in employment rates at higher levels of income per capita, and imply higher hours in the future, in contrast to the lower hours resulting from income effects and expansions in tax-and-transfer systems.
We document two robust features of the cross-sectional distribution of usual weekly hours and hourly wages. First, usual weekly hours are heavily concentrated around 40 hours, while at the same time a substantial share of total hours come from individuals who work more than 50 hours. Second, mean hourly wages are non-monotonic across the usual hours distribution, with a peak at 50 hours. We develop and estimate a model of labor supply to account for these features. The novel feature of our model is that earnings are non-linear in hours, with the extent of nonlinearity varying over the hours distribution. Our estimates imply significant wage penalties for individuals that deviate from 40 hours in either direction, leading to a large mass of individuals that work 40 hours and are not very responsive to shocks. This has important implications for the role of labor supply as a mechanism for self-insurance in a standard heterogeneous agent-incomplete markets model and for empirical strategies designed to estimate labor supply parameters.
Attention and Fluctuations in Macroeconomic Uncertainty
This paper studies a dispersed information economy in which agents can exert costly attention to learn about an unknown aggregate state of the economy. Under certain conditions, attention and four measures of uncertainty are countercyclical: Agents pay more attention when they expect the economy to be in a bad state, and their reaction generates higher (i) aggregate output volatility, (ii) cross-sectional output dispersion, (iii) forecast dispersion about aggregate output, and (iv) subjective uncertainty about aggregate output faced by each agent. All these phenomena are prominent features of the U.S. data. When attention cost is calibrated to forecast survey data, the model generates countercyclical fluctuations in attention and uncertainty, consistent with untargeted moments from the data. Fluctuations in attention and uncertainty are higher-order properties of the model. A new method is developed to solve higher-order dynamics of the equilibrium under an infinite regress problem.
On the Real-Time Predictive Content of Financial Conditions Indices for Growth
We provide evidence on the real-time predictive content of the National Financial Conditions Index (NFCI), for conditional quantiles of U.S. real GDP growth. Our work is distinct from the literature in two specific ways. First, we construct (unofficial) real-time vintages of the NFCI. This allows us to conduct out-of-sample analysis without introducing the kind of look-ahead biases that are naturally introduced when using a single current vintage. We then develop methods for conducting asymptotic inference on tests of equal tick loss between nested quantile regression models when the data are subject to revision. We conclude by evaluating the real-time predictive content of NFCI vintages for quantiles of real GDP growth. While our results largely reinforce the literature, we find gains to using real-time vintages leading up to recessions — precisely when policymakers need such a monitoring device.
Anatomy of Lifetime Earnings Inequality: Heterogeneity in Job Ladder Risk vs. Human Capital
We study the determinants of lifetime earnings (LE) inequality in the U.S. by focusing on latent heterogeneity in job ladder dynamics and on-the-job learning as sources of wage growth differentials. Using administrative data, we find (i) more frequent job switches among lower LE workers, mainly driven by nonemployment spells, (ii) little heterogeneity in average annual earnings growth of job stayers in the bottom two-thirds of the LE distribution, and (iii) an earnings growth for job switchers that rises strongly with LE. We estimate a structural model featuring a rich set of worker types and firm heterogeneity. We find vast differences in ex-ante job ladder risk—job loss, job finding, and contact rates—across workers. These differences account for 75% of the lifetime wage growth differential among the bottom half of the LE distribution. Above the median, almost all lifetime wage growth differences are a result of Pareto-distributed learning ability.
Reconsidering the Fed's Forecasting Advantage
Previous studies show the Fed has a forecast advantage over the private sector, either because it devotes more resources to forecasting or because it has an informational advantage in knowing the path of future monetary policy. We evaluate the Fed's forecast advantage to determine how much of it results from the Fed's knowledge of the conditioning path. We develop two tests---an instrumental variable encompassing test and a path-dependent encompassing test---to equalize the Fed's information set with the private sector's. We find that, generally, the Fed does not encompass the private sector when the latter has knowledge of the future of monetary policy. Further, we find that between 20 and 30 percent of the difference between the Fed's average mean squared forecast error and the private sector's can be explained by monetary policy.
Earnings Dynamics and Its Intergenerational Transmission: Evidence from Norway
Using administrative data, we provide an extensive characterization of labor earnings dynamics in Norway. Some of our findings are as follows. (i) Norway has not been immune to the increase in top earnings inequality seen in other countries. (ii) The earnings distribution compresses in the bottom 90% over the life cycle but expands in the top 10%. (iii) The earnings growth distribution is left skewed and leptokurtic, and the extent of these nonnormalities varies with age and past income. Linking individuals to their parents, we also investigate the intergenerational transmission of income dynamics. We find that children of high-income, high-wealth fathers enjoy steeper income growth over the life cycle and face more volatile but more positively skewed income changes, suggesting that they are more likely to pursue high-return, high-risk careers. Income growth for children of poorer fathers is more gradual and more left skewed, displaying higher left tail risk. Furthermore, the income dynamics of fathers and children are strongly correlated: children of fathers with steeper life-cycle income growth, more volatile incomes, or higher downside risk also have income streams of similar properties. These findings shed new light on the determinants of intergenerational mobility.
International trade and labor reallocation: misclassification errors, mobility, and switching costs
Over the last few decades, international trade has increased at a rapid pace, altering domestic production and labor demand in different sectors of the economy. A growing literature studies the heterogeneous effects of trade shocks on workers’ employment and on welfare when reallocation decisions are costly. The estimated effects critically depend on data on workers’ reallocation patterns, which is typically plagued with coding errors. In this paper, I study the consequences of misclassification errors for estimates of the labor market effects of international trade and show that structural parameter values and the estimated employment and welfare effects are biased when the analysis uses uncorrected data. I develop an econometric framework to jointly estimate misclassification probabilities, corrected mobility matrices, and structural parameters in a unified way. Under different model specifications, I compare how the estimated effects of a trade shock differ on whether the analysis uses correct mobility measures and parameters. The results show that estimated employment and welfare effects of a trade shock are substantially different, raising an important warning for quantitative exercises using mobility data with coding errors.
Paving the Road for Replications: Experimental Results from an Online Research Bibliography
Are users of a bibliographic database interested in learning about replications? Can they be induced to learn? To answer these questions, we performed an experiment at the online research bibliography, RePEc (Research Papers in Economics). RePEc is the main research bibliography for pre-prints and published papers in economics. Using randomized stratification, we allocated 324 replications and their corresponding original studies to clusters. We then drew from those clusters to construct treatment and control groups. Brightly colored tabs were added to the relevant webpages to alert visitors to the existence of a replication study. We then monitored traffic over three phases lasting several months: a) no treatment, b) treatment on one group, c) treatment on both groups. Our estimates indicate that this intervention generated an average click-through-rate (CTR) of 1.6%, resulting in a 13% increase in the visits to replication webpages, though only the former estimate was statistically significant.
We develop a simple model of relationship lending where lenders have incentives for evergreening loans by offering better terms to firms that are close to default. We detect such lending behavior using loan-level supervisory data for the United States. Banks that own a larger share of a firm's debt provide distressed firms with relatively more credit at lower interest rates. Building on this empirical validation, we incorporate the theoretical mechanism into a dynamic heterogeneous-firm model to show that evergreening affects aggregate outcomes, resulting in lower interest rates, higher levels of debt, and lower productivity.
The Impact of Juvenile Conviction on Human Capital and Labor Market Outcomes
This article documents the long-term relationship among juvenile conviction, occupation choices, employment, wages, and recidivism. Using data from NLSY97, we document that youths who are convicted at or before age 17 have lower full-time employment rate and lower wage growth rate even after 10 years into the labor market. Merging the NSLY97 with occupational characteristics data from O*NET, we show that youths with a juvenile conviction are less likely to be employed in occupations that have a higher on-the-job (OTJ) training requirement and these high OTJ occupations have higher wage and wage growth. The accumulated occupation-specific work experience, general experience, and education are important to explain the gaps in wage and recidivism between youths with and without a juvenile conviction. Our results highlight the important role of occupation choices as a human capital investment vehicle through which juvenile crimes have a long-term impact on wages and recidivism.
Dynamic Gains from Trade Agreements with Intellectual Property Provisions
I develop a quantitative multi-country trade model of innovation and technology licensing to study the short- and long-term effects of trade agreements with intellectual property (IP) provisions. A trade agreement involves determining the level of tariffs and IP protection as Nash bargaining between a developed and a developing country. The agreement increases welfare, innovation, and growth in the long-run. However, gains accrue differently across countries along the transition. Developing countries experience short-run losses, as they now pay higher licensing prices. An agreement designed by a politically-motivated government could mitigate these losses, but at the expense of lower growth and welfare.
Financial Frictions and International Trade
This paper reviews recent studies on the impact of financial frictions on international trade. We first present evidence on the relation between measures of access to external finance and export decisions. We then present an analytical framework to analyze the impact of financial frictions on firms' export decisions. Finally, we review recent applications of this framework to investigate the impact of financial frictions on international trade dynamics across firms, industries, and in the aggregate. We discuss related empirical, theoretical, and quantitative studies throughout.
Effects of Defensive and Proactive Measures on Competition Between Terrorist Groups
A two-stage game investigates how counterterrorism measures affect within-country competition between two rival terrorist groups. Although such competition is commonplace (e.g., al-Nusra Front and Free Syria Army; Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the National Liberation Army; and al-Fatah and Hamas), there is no theoretical treatment of how proactive and defensive measures influence this interaction. Previous studies on rival terrorist groups are solely empirical concerning group survival, outbidding, and terrorism level, while ignoring the role that government countermeasures exert on the rival groups’ terrorism. In a theoretical framework, alternative counterterrorism actions have diverse impacts on the level of terrorism depending on relative group sizes and government-targeting decisions. In the two-stage game, optimal counterterrorism policy rules are displayed in terms of how governments target symmetric and asymmetric terrorist groups. Comparative statics show how parameter changes affect Nash or subgame perfect equilibrium outcomes.