Skip to main content Skip to main content

Working Paper Archives

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis working papers are preliminary materials circulated to stimulate discussion and critial comment.

Customer Capital, Markup Cyclicality, and Amplification

This paper studies the importance of firm-level price-markup dynamics for business cycle fluctuations. Using state-of-the-art IO techniques to measure the behavior of markups over the business cycle at the firm level, I find that markups are counter-cyclical with an average elasticity of -1.1 with respect to real GDP. Importantly, I find substantial heterogeneity in markup cyclicality across firms, with small firms having significantly more counter-cyclical markups than large firms. Then, I develop a general equilibrium model by embedding customer capital (due to deep habits as in Ravn, Schmitt-Grohe, and Uribe, 2006) into a standard Hopenhayn (1992) model of firm dynamics with entry and exit. The calibrated model replicates these empirical facts and produces counter-cyclical firm sales dispersions consistent with the data. The resulting input misallocation amplifies both the volatility and persistence of the aggregate productivity shocks driving the business cycle.

Optimal fiscal policy in overlapping generations models

In this paper, we explore the proposition that the optimal capital income tax is zero using an overlapping generations model. We prove that for a large class of preferences, the optimal capital income tax along the transition path and in steady state is non-zero. For a version of the model calibrated to the US economy, we find that the model could justify the observed rates of capital income taxation for an empirically reasonable intertemporal utility function and a robust demographic structure.

Unconventional monetary policy and the behavior of shorts

In November 2008, the Federal Reserve announced the first of a series of unconventional monetary policies, which would include asset purchases and forward guidance, to reduce long-term interest rates. We investigate the behavior of shorts, considered sophisticated investors, before and after a set of these unconventional monetary policy announcements that spot bond markets did not fully anticipate. Short interest in Treasury and agency securities systematically predicts bond price changes on the days of monetary announcements, particularly when growth or monetary news is released, indicating shorts correctly anticipated these surprises. Shorts also systematically adjusted their positions after announcements in the direction of the announcement surprise when the announcement released growth news, suggesting that shorts interpreted monetary events to imply further yield changes in the same direction.

Mortgage Debt, Consumption, and Illiquid Housing Markets in the Great Recession

Using a model with housing search, endogenous credit constraints, and mortgage default, this paper accounts for the housing crash from 2006 to 2011 and its implications for aggregate and cross-sectional consumption during the Great Recession. Left tail shocks to labor market uncertainty and tighter down payment requirements emerge as the key drivers. An endogenous decline in housing liquidity amplifies the recession by increasing foreclosures, contracting credit, and depressing consumption. Balance sheets act as a transmission mechanism from housing to consumption that depends on gross portfolio positions and the leverage distribution. Low interest rate policies accelerate the recovery in housing and consumption.

Knowledge Diffusion, Trade and Innovation across Countries and Sectors

We provide a unified framework for quantifying the cross-country and cross-sector interactions among trade, innovation, and knowledge diffusion. We study the effect of trade liberalization in a multi-country, multi-sector endogenous growth model in which comparative advantage and the stock of knowledge are determined by innovation and diffusion. A reduction in trade costs induces a re-allocation of comparative advantage in production and innovation across sectors, which translates into higher growth along the counterfactual balanced growth path (BGP). Heterogeneous knowledge diffusion across country-sectors amplifies the specialization effects of trade-induced R&D re-allocation, becoming an additional source of growth and welfare.

The exchange rate as an instrument of monetary policy

Monetary policy research in small open economies has typically focused on “corner solutions”: either the currency rate is fixed by the central bank, or it is left to be determined by market forces. We build an open-economy model with external habits to study the properties of a new class of monetary policy rules in which the monetary authority uses the exchange rate as the instrument. Different from a Taylor rule, the monetary authority announces the rate of expected currency appreciation by taking into account inflation and output fluctuations. We find that the exchange rate rule outperforms a standard Taylor rule in terms of welfare, regardless of the policy parameter values. The differences are driven by: (i) the behavior of the nominal exchange rate and interest rates under each rule, and (ii) deviations from UIP due to a time-varying risk premium.

The Aggregate and Relative Economic Effects of Medicaid and Medicare Expansions

Government-financed health care (GFHC) expenditures, through Medicare and Medicaid, have grown from roughly zero to over 7.5 percent of national income over the past 50 years. Recently, some advocates (e.g., the Council of Economic Advisers (2014)) have argued that an expansion of GFHC (in particular Medicaid) has large positive employment effects. Using quarterly data between 1976 and 2016, this paper estimates the impact of GFHC spending on the unemployment rate by using an instrumental variables strategy that exploits exogenous variation in Medicare spending. We find that an exogenous GFHC expansion either increases or has no effect on the unemployment rate. Although the unemployment rate responses using aggregate data are estimated imprecisely, they are considerably sharper when estimated using state-level data. We also show the so-called relative (or local) multiplier approach based on the state-level panel provides similar estimates to those based on aggregate data. Finally, we show how the absence of a negative effect of GFHC expansions on the unemployment rate may be due to the implications these policies have for taxes across states.

Modeling Time-Varying Uncertainty of Multiple-Horizon Forecast Errors

We develop uncertainty measures for point forecasts from surveys such as the Survey of Professional Forecasters, Blue Chip, or the Federal Open Market Committee''''s Summary of Economic Projections. At a given point of time, these surveys provide forecasts for macroeconomic variables at multiple horizons. To track time-varying uncertainty in the associated forecast errors, we derive a multiple-horizon specification of stochastic volatility. Compared to constant-variance approaches, our stochastic-volatility model improves the accuracy of uncertainty measures for survey forecasts.

Flight to What?— ---Dissecting Liquidity Shortages in the Financial Crisis

We endogenize the liquidity and the quality of private assets in a tractable incomplete-market model with heterogeneous agents. The model decomposes the convenience yield of government bond into a "liquidity premium" (flight to liquidity) and a "safety premium" (flight to quality) over the business cycle. When calibrated to match the U.S. aggregate output fluctuations and bond premiums, the model reveals that a sharp reduction in the quality, instead of the liquidity, of private assets was the culprit of the recent financial crisis, consistent with the perception that it was the subprime mortgage problem that triggered the Great Recession. Since the provision of public liquidity endogenously affects the provision of private liquidity, our model indicates that excessive injection of public liquidity during financial crisis can be welfare reducing under either conventional or unconventional policies. In particular, too much intervention for too long can depress capital investment.

Optimal Ramsey Capital Income Taxation—A Reappraisal

This paper addresses a long-standing problem in the optimal Ramsey capital taxation literature. The tractability of our model enables us to solve the Ramsey problem analytically along the entire transitional path. We show that the conventional wisdom on Ramsey tax policy and its underlying intuition and rationales do not hold in our model and may thus be misrepresented in the literature. We uncover a critical trade off for the Ramsey planner between aggregate allocative efficiency in terms of the modified golden rule and individual allocative efficiency in terms of self-insurance. Facing the trade-off, the Ramsey planner prefers issuing debt rather than taxing capital if possible. In particular, the planner always intends to supply enough bonds to relax individuals'' borrowing constraints to achieve the modified golden rule by crowding out capital. A capital tax is not the optimal tool to achieve aggregate allocative efficiency, despite possible over-accumulation of capital. Thus, the optimal capital tax can be zero, positive, or even negative, depending on the Ramsey planner''s ability to issue debt. The modified golden rule can fail to hold whenever the government encounters a debt limit. Finally, the planner''s desire to relax individuals'' borrowing constraints may lead to unlimited debt accumulation, resulting in a dynamic path featuring no steady state.

Money, Banking and Financial Markets

The fact that money, banking, and financial markets interact in important ways seems self-evident. The theoretical nature of this interaction, however, has not been fully explored. To this end, we integrate the Diamond (1997) model of banking and financial markets with the Lagos and Wright (2005) dynamic model of monetary exchange--a union that bears a framework in which fractional reserve banks emerge in equilibrium, where bank assets are funded with liabilities made demandable in government money, where the terms of bank deposit contracts are affected by the liquidity insurance available in financial markets, where banks are subject to runs, and where a central bank has a meaningful role to play, both in terms of inflation policy and as a lender of last resort. Among other things, the model provides a rationale for nominal deposit contracts combined with a central bank lender-of last-resort facility to promote efficient liquidity insurance and a panic-free banking system.

Debt and Stabilization Policy: Evidence from a Euro Area FAVAR

The Euro-area poses a unique problem in evaluating policy: a currency union with a shared monetary policy and country-specific fiscal policy. Analysis can be further complicated if high levels of public debt affect the performance of stabilization policy. We construct a framework capable of handling these issues with an application to Euro-Area data. In order to incorporate multiple macroeconomic series from each country but, simultaneously, treat country-specific fiscal policy, we develop a hierarchical factor-augmented VAR with zero restrictions on the loadings that yield country-level factors. Monetary policy, then, responds to area-wide conditions but fiscal policy responds only to its country level conditions. We find that there is broad quantitative variation in different countries'''' responses to area-wide monetary policy and both qualitative and quantitative variation in responses to country-specific fiscal policy. Moreover, we find that debt conditions do not diminish the effectiveness of policy in a significant manner, suggesting that any negative effects must come through other channels.

Corporate Income Tax, Legal Form of Organization, and Employment

A dynamic stochastic occupational choice model with heterogeneous agents is developed to evaluate the impact of a corporate income tax reduction on employment. In this framework, the key margin is the endogenous entrepreneurial choice of the legal form of organization (LFO). A reduction in the corporate income tax burden encourages adoption of the C corporation legal form, which reduces capital constraints on firms. Improved capital re-allocation increases overall productive efficiency in the economy and therefore expands the labor market. Relative to the benchmark economy, a corporate income tax cut can reduce the non-employment rate by up to 7 percent.

The response of multinationals’ foreign exchange rate exposure to macroeconomic news

We use intraday data to estimate the daily foreign exchange exposure of U.S. multinationals and show that macroeconomic news affects these firms’ foreign exchange exposure. News creates a substantial shift in the joint distribution of stock and exchange rate returns that has both a transitory and a persistent component. For example, a positive domestic demand surprise, as reflected in higher-than-expected nonfarm payroll, increases the value of the low-exposure domestic activities and results in a persistent decrease in foreign exchange exposure.

Optimal Monetary Policy under Negative Interest Rate

In responding to the extremely weak global economy after the financial crisis in 2008, many industrial nations have been considering or have already implemented negative nominal interest rate policy. This situation raises two important questions for monetary theories: (i) Given the widely held doctrine of the zero lower bound on nominal interest rate, how is a negative interest rate (NIR) policy possible? (ii) Will NIR be effective in stimulating aggregate demand? (iii) Are there any new theoretical issues emerging under NIR policies? This article builds a model to show that (i) money injections can remain effective even when the nominal bank lending rate has reached zero or become negative; (ii) it is a good policy to keep the nominal interest rate as low as possible by purchasing government bonds with money; and (iii) the conventional wisdom on the notion of the liquidity trap and the Fisherian decomposition between the nominal and real interest rate can be invalid.

Truncated Firm Productivity Distributions and Trade Margins

A standard theoretical prediction is that average exports are independent of tariff rates when the underlying distribution of firm productivities is assumed to be the widely-used Pareto distribution. Assuming that the underlying distribution has no upper bound is undoubtedly inaccurate and produces theoretical results at odds with empirical results. In contrast, we show that upper-truncation of the Pareto distribution makes average exports rise with trade liberalization. This result is derived analytically, and is supported by simulations. We extend our analysis to the cases of lognormal and Fréchet distributions, which are also frequently used by trade economists. Our findings for lognormal and Fréchet distributions are qualitatively similar to the findings using the truncated Pareto.

Terms-of-Trade and Counterterrorism Externalities

This paper investigates the interplay of trade and terrorism externalities under free trade between a developed nation that exports a manufactured good to and imports a primary product from a developing nation. A terrorist organization targets both nations and reduces its attacks in response to a nation’s defensive counterterrorism efforts, while transferring some of its attacks abroad. Terms-of-trade considerations lead the developed nation to raise its counterterrorism level beyond the “small-country” level, thus compounding its overprovision of these measures. By contrast, the developing nation limits its defensive countermeasures below that of the small-country level. This asymmetry is a novel finding. The analysis is extended to include proactive countermeasures to weaken the terrorist group. Again, the developed country raises its efforts owing to the terms-of-trade externality, which now opposes the underprovision associated with proactive efforts. A sec ond extension allows for several developing-country exporters of the primary product.

Nominal GDP Targeting With Heterogeneous Labor Supply

We study nominal GDP targeting as optimal monetary policy in a model with a credit market friction following Azariadis, Bullard, Singh and Suda (2018), henceforth ABSS. As in ABSS, the macroeconomy we study has considerable income inequality which gives rise to a large private sector credit market. Households participating in this market use non-state contingent nominal contracts (NSCNC). We extend the ABSS framework to allow for endogenous and heterogeneous household labor supply among credit market participant households. We show that nominal GDP targeting continues to characterize optimal monetary policy in this setting. Optimal monetary policy repairs the distortion caused by the credit market friction and so leaves heterogeneous households supplying their desired amount of labor, a type of "divine coincidence" result. We also analyze the incomplete markets equilibrium that exists when the monetary policymaker pursues a suboptimal policy, and show how an extension to more general preferences can limit the ability of the policymaker to provide full insurance to households in this setting.

Airport Noise in Atlanta: The Inequality of Sound

We examine how changes in the geographic concentrations of Hispanic and African-American populations are correlated with changes in probabilities of airport noise, in Atlanta, during 2003 and 2012. We estimate ordered probit and locally weighted ordered probit regressions for three different noise categories to determine the correlations between these two demographic groups and the aircraft noise levels experienced by people in individual houses that sold. Then we determine the average coefficient for all houses sold in each Census block group, and we plot each year’s coefficients for each block group against the percentiles of the minority population. While the absolute level of noise has declined over the geographic area considered in 2012 compared with 2003, we find that the distribution of noise coefficients among Hispanics and blacks became more inequitable in 2012 compared with 2003. At least two potential mechanisms could generate these correlations. Due to residential mobility, income and preferences could combine to produce a concentration of minorities in certain neighborhoods. Or, perhaps noisier flight paths are imposed upon higher minority neighborhoods as a result of discrimination. Our findings contribute to the broader literature on environmental justice, even though we cannot definitively infer the mechanisms at work.

Optimal Taxes Under Private Information: The Role of Inflation

We consider an overlapping generation framework with search and private information to study optimal taxation. Agents sequentially trade in markets that are characterized by different frictions and trading protocols. In frictional decentralized markets, agents receive shocks that determine if they are going to be consumers or producers. Shocks are private information. Mechanism design is used to solve for the constrained optimal allocation. We then study whether a government can replicate the constrained optimal allocation with an array of policy instruments including fiat money. We show that if the government has a full set of non-linear taxes, then lump-sum taxes and inflation are irrelevant for the allocation. However, if the government is constrained to use linear taxes, then using the inflation tax is optimal even if lump-sum taxes are available.

Financial Frictions and Export Dynamics in Large Devaluations

We study the role of financial frictions and balance-sheet effects in accounting for the dynamics of aggregate exports in large devaluations. We investigate a small open economy with heterogeneous firms, where firms face financing constraints and debt can be denominated in foreign units. We find that these channels can explain only a small fraction of the dynamics of exports observed in the data. While these frictions distort production and investment decisions, they affect exports significantly less since firms reallocate sales across markets in response to real exchange rate changes. We document the importance of this mechanism using plant-level data.

Estimation of the discontinuous leverage effect: Evidence from the NASDAQ order book

An extensive empirical literature documents a generally negative correlation, named the “leverage effect,” between asset returns and changes of volatility. It is more challenging to establish such a return-volatility relationship for jumps in high-frequency data. We propose new nonparametric methods to assess and test for a discontinuous leverage effect — i.e. a relation between contemporaneous jumps in prices and volatility. The methods are robust to market microstructure noise and build on a newly developed price-jump localization and estimation procedure. Our empirical investigation of six years of transaction data from 320 NASDAQ firms displays no unconditional negative correlation between price and volatility cojumps. We show, however, that there is a strong relation between price-volatility cojumps if one conditions on the sign of price jumps and whether the price jumps are market-wide or idiosyncratic. Firms’ volatility levels strongly explain the cross-section of discontinuous leverage while debt-to-equity ratios have no significant explanatory power.

Systematic Cojumps, Market Component Portfolios and Scheduled Macroeconomic Announcements,

This study provides evidence of common bivariate jumps (i.e., systematic cojumps) between the market index and style-sorted portfolios. Systematic cojumps are prevalent in book-to-market portfolios and hence, their risk cannot easily be diversified away by investing in growth or value stocks. Nonetheless, large-cap firms have less exposure to systematic cojumps than small-cap firms. Probit regression reveals that systematic cojump occurrences are significantly associated with worse-than-expected scheduled macroeconomic announcements, especially those pertaining to the Federal Funds target rate. Tobit regression shows that Federal Funds news surprises are also significantly related to the magnitude of systematic cojumps.

Low Real Interest Rates and the Zero Lower Bound

How do low real interest rates constrain monetary policy? Is the zero lower bound optimal if the real interest rate is sufficiently low? What is the role of forward guidance? A model is constructed that can in- corporate sticky price frictions, collateral constraints, and conventional monetary distortions. The model has neo-Fisherian properties. Forward guidance in a liquidity trap works through the promise of higher future in‡flation, generated by a higher future nominal interest rate. With very tight collateral constraints, the real interest rate can be very low, but the zero lower bound need not be optimal.

Bank panics and scale economies

A bank panic is an expectation-driven redemption event that results in a self-fulfilling prophecy of losses on demand deposits. From the standpoint of theory in the tradition of Diamond and Dybvig (1983) and Green and Lin (2003), it is surprisingly difficult to generate bank panic equilibria if one allows for a plausible degree of contractual flexibility. A common assumption employed in the standard banking model is that returns are linear in the scale of investment. Instead, we assume the existence of a fixed investment cost, so that a higher risk-adjusted rate of return is available only if investment exceeds a minimum scale requirement. With this simple and empirically-plausible modification to the standard model, we find that bank panic equilibria emerge easily and naturally, even under highly flexible contractual arrangements. While bank panics can be eliminated through an appropriate policy, it is not always desirable to do so. We use our model to examine a number of issues, including the likely effectiveness of recent financial market regulations. Our model also lends some support for the claim that low-interest rate policy induces a “reach-for-yield” phenomenon resulting in a more panic-prone financial system.

Liquidity Premiums on Government Debt and the Fiscal Theory of the Price Level

We construct a dynamic general equilibrium model where agents use nominal government bonds as collateral in secured lending arrangements. If the collateral constraint binds, agents price in a liquidity premium on bonds that lowers the real rate on bonds. In equilibrium, the price level is determined according to the …fiscal theory of the price level. However, the market value of government debt exceeds its fundamental value. We then examine the dynamic properties of the model and show that the market value of the government debt can ‡fluctuate even though there are no changes to current or future taxes or spending. The price dynamics are driven solely by the liquidity premium on the debt.

Sticky Wages, Monetary Policy and Fiscal Policy Multipliers

This paper demonstrates how adding nominal wage rigidity to a standard sticky price model can create a mechanism by which increases in government spending cause increases in consumption. The increase in output arising from government purchases puts upward pressure on the price level. At a fixed short-run nominal wage, this bids down the real wage, which leads producers to increase labor demand. Increased labor demand allows households to both finance the tax bill associated with the government spending as well as increase their own consumption. Our approach does not rely upon existing ingredients for generating large fiscal multipliers, such as the zero lower bound, borrowing constrained households or an interaction between consumption and government purchases in the utility function.

Capital Goods Trade, Relative Prices, and Economic Development

International trade in capital goods has quantitatively important effects on economic development through capital formation and TFP. Capital goods trade enables poor countries to access more efficient technologies, leading to lower relative prices of capital goods and higher capital-output ratios. Moreover, poor countries can use their comparative advantage and allocate their resources more efficiently, and increase their TFP. We quantify these channels using a multisector, multicountry, Ricardian model of trade with capital accumulation. The model matches several trade and development facts within a unified framework. Frictionless trade in capital goods reduces the income gap between rich and poor countries by 40 percent. More than half of the reduction in the income gap is due to the TFP channel.

Capital Accumulation and Dynamic Gains from Trade

We compute welfare gains from trade in a dynamic, multicountry model with capital accumulation and trade imbalances. We develop a gradient-free method to compute the exact transition paths following a trade liberalization. We find that (i) larger countries accumulate a current account surplus, and financial resources flow from larger countries to smaller countries, boosting consumption in the latter, (ii) countries with larger short-run trade deficits accumulate capital faster, (iii) the gains are nonlinear in the reduction in trade costs, and (iv) capital accumulation accounts for substantial gains. The net foreign asset position before the liberalization is positively correlated with the gains. The tradables intensity in consumption goods production determines the static gains, and the tradables intensity in investment goods production determines the dynamic gains that include capital accumulation.

International Trade and Intertemporal Substitution

This paper quantitatively investigates the extent to which variation in the intertemporal marginal rate of substitution can help account for puzzling features of cyclical fluctuations of international trade volumes. Our insight is that, because international trade is time-intensive, variation in the rate at which agents are willing to substitute across time affects how trade volumes respond to changes in output and prices. We use a standard small open economy model with time-intensive international trade, calibrated to match key features of U.S. data and disciplining the variation in the intertemporal marginal rate of substitution using asset price data. We find that variation in the intertemporal marginal rate of substitution helps rationalize puzzling features of import fluctuations and that this mechanism is quantitatively important during both normal and crisis times.


Next 30 Working Papers

Archives

Year

Category

Author

JEL Code


Tools

Related Links


Subscribe to our newsletter


Back to Top