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

International

What do happiness and health satisfaction data tell us about relative risk aversion?

In this paper we provide estimates of the coefficient of relative risk aversion using information on self-reports of subjective personal well-being from multiple datasets, including three cross-sectional surveys and two panel surveys, namely the Gallup World Poll, the European Social Survey, the World Values Survey, the British Household Panel Survey for the United Kingdom, and the General Social Survey for the United States. We additionally consider the implications of allowing for health-state dependence in the utility function on the estimates of risk aversion and examine how the marginal utility of income changes in poor health states. Our estimates of relative risk aversion with cross-section data vary closely around 1, which corresponds to logarithmic utility, while the estimates with panel data are slightly larger. We find that controlling for health dependence generally reduces these estimates. In contrast with other studies in the literature, our results also suggest that the marginal utility of income increases when satisfaction with health deteriorates, and this effect is robust across the various datasets analyzed.

The (Non-)Resiliency of Foreign Direct Investment in the United States

We study the contraction of foreign direct investment (FDI) flows in the United States during the recent financial crisis and show their unusual non-resiliency, which depends in part on the global nature of the economic recession, but also on the increases in the cost of financing FDI in the economies in which the flows originate. To formally study the effects of external financial conditions on FDI in the United States, we exploit the three dimensions of a panel of U.S. inward FDI flows organized by recipient U.S. industries, source countries, and years for the recorded flows. Changes in the cost of finance in the source countries have little or no effect on total inward flows (the sum of equity, debt, and reinvested earnings) over the 2006-2010 period. However, U.S. industries characterized by more financial vulnerability experience statistically significant variations in the debt and equity components of inward FDI flows in response to the changes in the cost of capital that occurred in the source countries during the crisis.

Capital Flows and Japanese Asset Volatility,

Characterizing asset price volatility is an important goal for financial economists. The literature has shown that variables that proxy for the information arrival process can help explain and/or forecast volatility. Unfortunately, however, obtaining good measures of volume and/or order flow is expensive or difficult in decentralized markets such as foreign exchange. We investigate the extent that Japanese capital flows—which are released weekly—reflect information arrival that improves foreign exchange and equity volatility forecasts. We find that capital flows can help explain transitory shocks to GARCH volatility.

Speculation in the Oil Market

The run-up in oil prices since 2004 coincided with growing investment in commodity markets and increased price comovement among different commodities. We assess whether speculation in the oil market played a role in driving this salient empirical pattern. We identify oil shocks from a large dataset using a factor-augmented vector autoregressive (FAVAR) model. This method is motivated by the fact that a small scale VAR is not infomationally sufficient to identify the shocks. The main results are as follows: (i) While global demand shocks account for the largest share of oil price fluctuations, speculative shocks are the second most important driver. (ii) The comovement between oil prices and the prices of other commodities is mainly explained by global demand shocks. (iii) The increase in oil prices over the last decade is mainly driven by the strength of global demand. However, speculation played a significant role in the oil price increase between 2004 and 2008 and its subsequent collapse. Our results support the view that the recent oil price increase is mainly driven by the strength of global demand but that the financialization process of commodity markets also played a role.

Should easier access to international credit replace foreign aid?

We examine the interaction between foreign aid and binding borrowing constraint for a recipient country. We also analyze how these two instruments affect economic growth via non-linear relationships. First of all, we develop a two-country, two-period trade-theoretic model to develop testable hypotheses and then we use dynamic panel analysis to test those hypotheses empirically. Our main findings are that: (i) better access to international credit for a recipient country reduces the amount of foreign aid it receives, and (ii) there is a critical level of international financial transfer, and the marginal effect of foreign aid is larger than that of loans if and only if the transfer (loans or foreign aid) is below this critical level.

Lessons from the Evolution of Foreign Exchange Trading Strategies,

The adaptive markets hypothesis posits that trading strategies evolve as traders adapt their behavior to changing circumstances. This paper studies the evolution of trading strategies for a hypothetical trader who chooses portfolios from foreign exchange (forex) technical rules in major and emerging markets, the carry trade, and U.S. equities. The results show that a backtesting procedure to choose optimal portfolios improves upon the performance of nonadaptive rules. We also find that forex trading alone dramatically outperforms the S&P 500, with much larger Sharpe ratios over the whole sample, but there is little gain to coordinating forex and equity strategies, which explains why practitioners consider these tools separately. Forex trading returns dip significantly in the 1990s but recover by the end of the decade and have been markedly superior to an equity position since 1998. Overall, trading rule returns still exist in forex markets—with substantial stability in the types of rules—though they have migrated to emerging markets to a considerable degree.

Explaining China's Trade Imbalance Puzzle

The current global-imbalance literature (which explains why capital flows from poor to rich countries) is unable to explain China’s foreign asset positions because capital cannot flow out of China under capital controls. Hence, this literature has not succeeded in explaining China’s large and persistent trade imbalances with the United States. A closely related but deeper puzzle that this literature fails to address is China’s high household saving rate despite an astonishingly rapid income growth rate. This paper shows that a modified (and calibrated) Melitz (2003) model can qualitatively and quantitatively explain China’s trade surplus and its massive accumulation of low-yield foreign reserves. The simple infinite-horizon model is also consistent with the stylized fact that high saving is the consequence of high growth (Modigliani and Cao, 2004), which the permanent income theory and global-imbalance literature fail to predict.

Immigration Policy and Counterterrorism

A terrorist group, based in a developing (host) country, draws unskilled and skilled labor from the productive sector to conduct attacks in that nation and abroad. The host nation chooses proactive countermeasures. Moreover, a targeted developed nation decides its optimal mix of immigration quotas and defensive counterterrorism actions. Even though proactive measures in the host country may not curb terrorism directed at it, it may still be advantageous in terms of national income. Increases in the unskilled immigration quota augment terrorism against the developed country. By contrast, increases in the skilled immigration quota can reduce terrorism in the developed country if skilled migrants have a small marginal impact on terrorism there. When the developed country assumes a leadership role, it strategically should reduce its skilled immigration quota to induce more proactive measures in the host developing country.

Foreign Direct Investment, Aid and Terrorism: An Analysis of Developing Countries

Using a dynamic panel data framework, we investigate the relationship between the two major forms of terrorism and foreign direct investment (FDI). We then analyze how these relationships are affected by foreign aid flows. The analysis focuses on 78 developing countries for 1984- 2008. Our findings suggest that all types of terrorism depress FDI. In addition, aid mitigates the negative effects of total and domestic terrorism on FDI; however, this is not the case for transnational terrorism. This finding highlights that different forms of terrorism call for tailoring mitigating strategies. Foreign aid apparently cannot address the causes and supply lines of transnational terrorism. Aid’s ability to curb the risk to FDI for total and domestic terrorism is extremely important because (i) domestic terrorism is an overwhelming fraction of the total terrorism for many developing nations, and (ii) FDI is an important engine of development for these nations.

Multinational Firms' Entry, Productivity, and Inefficiency

Despite the microeconomic evidence supporting the superior idiosyncratic productivity of multinational firms (MNFs) and their affiliates, cross-country studies fail to find robust evidence of a positive relationship between foreign direct investment and growth. In order to study the aggregate implications of MNFs entry and production, I develop a dynamic general equilibrium model with firm heterogeneity where MNFs sort according to their own productivity. The entry and production of MNFs contribute to aggregate productivity growth at decreasing rates and affect domestic producers through general equilibrium effects in the labor market. I argue that the heterogeneous composition of the population of affiliates can help explain the conflicting evidence on the impact of foreign direct investment on growth.

How Does Multinational Production Change International Comovement?

I study the aggregate implications of the entry of Multinational Firms (MNFs) in a two country Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium model in which firms have heterogeneous productivity in the sense of Ghironi and Melitz (2005). Unlike the extant open economy macroeconomics literature, this model endogenizes both multinational production and exports as possible strategies of internationalization of production, a feature that substantially improves the match between model-simulated moments and business cycle data along two dimensions. First, once I allow for concurrent entry (and exit) of MNFs and exporters over the business cycle, the consumption output anomaly disappears and I can successfully replicate the ranking of cross-country correlations of output and consumption found in the data. Second, I show that the model with heterogeneous MNFs is capable of bringing the simulated volatility of the Real Exchange Rate much closer to the data than previous models with either representative or heterogeneous exporters.

Trade and Synchronization in a Multi-Country Economy

Substantial evidence suggests that countries with stronger trade linkages have more synchro- nized business cycles. The standard international business cycle framework cannot replicate this finding, uncovering the trade-comovement puzzle. In this paper we investigate the extent to which more sophisticated trade models can sort out this puzzle. We show that under certain macro-level conditions but irrespective of the micro-level assumptions concerning trade (within a large class of trade models) synchronization is explained by three factors: (i) the correlation between each country's productivity shocks, (ii) the correlation between each country's share of expenditure on domestic goods, and (iii) the correlation between each country's productivity and the partner's share of expenditure on domestic goods. An empirical investigation of the link between trade and each of the three factors shows that the trade-comovement relation is explained by the first and second factors.

International Oligopoly, Barriers To Outsourcing And Domestic Employment

Barriers to outsourcing that are being currently implemented in the US effectively tax its companies who “export” jobs through outsourcing. The objective is to raise domestic employment. Given that many of the important international markets where the US has a comparative advantage feature non-atomistic firms, we evaluate the implications of such policies in an oligopolistic context. We find that while an outsourcing tax favors domestic workers by causing firms to switch to a greater use of domestic sources (the substitution effect), the loss in international competitiveness has a negative volume effect (the output effect), which pulls in the other direction. First, we identify the conditions that determine the relative strengths of these effects, which inform us about the conditions under which such a tax achieves its stated objective. Next, we consider the international policy interdependence that arises when a competing nation also engages in such a policy. An interesting finding is that even if a unilateral tax by the US raises its employment, this may turn around in a Nash policy equilibrium, where the competing nation abandons free trade and also engages in unilateral outsourcing policies. Finally, we extend the basic model to look at the effects of credit shortage and product differentiation. Interesting findings are that both a credit crisis (as in recent years) and increased product differentiation tend to worsen the employment effects of the outsourcing tax. The qualitative nature of our findings is similar between Cournot and Bertrand competition, suggesting that our results are robust to the mode of strategic behavior.

Changes in the Second-Moment Properties of Disaggregated Capital Flows

Using formal statistical tests, we detect (i) significant volatility increases for various types of capital flows for a period of changes in business cycle comovement among the G7 countries, and (ii) mixed evidence of changes in covariances and correlations with a set of macroeconomic variables.

The Large Scale Asset Purchases Had Large International Effects

The Federal Reserve’s unconventional monetary policy announcements in 2008-2009 substantially reduced international long-term bond yields and the spot value of the dollar. These changes closely followed announcements and were very unlikely to have occurred by chance. A simple portfolio choice model can produce quantitatively plausible changes in U.S. and foreign excess bond yields. The jump depreciations of the USD are fairly consistent with estimates of the impacts of previous equivalent monetary policy shocks. The policy announcements do not appear to have reduced yields by reducing expectations of real growth. Unconventional policy can reduce international long-term yields and the value of the dollar even at the zero bound.

Ethnic Networks and Trade: Intensive vs. Extensive Margins

Ethnic networks—as proxies for information networks—have been associated with higher levels of international trade. Previous research has not differentiated between the roles of these networks on the extensive and intensive margins. The present paper does so using a model with fixed effects, finding that ethnic networks increase trade on the intensive margin but not on the extensive margin.

Financial Integration, Globalization, Growth and Systemic Real Risk

Using data for a large number of advanced and emerging market economies during 1985-2009, this paper documents the dynamics of financial integration and assesses whether advances in financial integration and globalization yield the beneficial real effects resulting from a more efficient resource allocation predicted by theory. We find that: (a) financial integration has progressed significantly worldwide, within regions, and particularly in emerging markets; (b) advances in financial integration and globalization predict higher growth, lower growth volatility, as well as lower probabilities of systemic real risk realizations; (c) financial integration fosters domestic financial development and the liquidity of equity markets; and (d) the quality of institutions and corporate governance are important determinants of the levels of financial integration and globalization. Thus, financial integration and globalization appear to yield direct as well as indirect benefits in the form of improved countries’ growth prospects and lower systemic real risk.

Common Fluctuations in OECD Budget Balances

We use a dynamic latent factor model to analyze comovements in OECD budget surpluses. The world factor underlying common fluctuations in budget surpluses across countries explains an average of 28 to 44 percent of the variation in individual country surpluses. The world factor, which can be interpreted as a global budget surplus index, declines substantially in the 1980s, rises throughout much of the 1990s to a peak in 2000, before declining again after the financial crisis of 2008. We then estimate similar world factors in national output gaps, dividend-price ratios, and military spending that significantly explain variation in the world budget surplus factors. Idiosyncratic components of national budget surpluses correlate with well known “unusual” country circumstances, such as the Swedish banking crisis of the early 1990s.

Biofuel Subsidies: An Open Economy Analysis

This paper explores optimal biofuel subsidies in a general equilibrium trade model. The focus is on the production of biofuels such as corn-based ethanol, which diverts corn from use as food. In the small-country case, when the tax on crude is not available as a policy option, a second-best biofuel subsidy may or may not be positive. In the large-country case, the twin objectives of pollution reduction and terms-of-trade improvement justify a combination of crude tax and biofuel subsidy for the food exporter. Finally, we show that when both nations engage in biofuel policies, the terms-of-trade effects encourage the Nash equilibrium subsidy to be positive (negative) for the food exporting (importing) nation.

Cross-Border Lobbying in Preferential Trading Agreements: Implications for External Tariffs

This paper examines the effect of cross-border lobbying on domestic lobbying and on external tariffs in both Customs Union (CU) and Free Trade Area (FTA). We do so by developing a two-stage game which endogenizes the tariff formation function in a political economic model of the directly unproductive rent-seeking activities type. We find that cross-border lobbying unambiguously increases both domestic lobbying and the equilibrium common external tariffs in a CU. The same result also holds for FTA provided tariffs for the member governments are strategic complements. We also develop a specific oligopolistic model of FTA and show that tariffs are indeed strategic complements in such a model.

Sources of Exchange Rate Fluctuations: Are they Real or Nominal?

I analyze the role of real and monetary shocks on the exchange rate behavior using a structural vector autoregressive model of the US vis-à-vis the rest of the world. The shocks are identified using sign restrictions on the responses of the variables to orthogonal disturbances. These restrictions are derived from the predictions of a two-country DSGE model. I find that monetary shocks are unimportant in explaining exchange rate fluctuations. By contrast, demand shocks explain between 21% and 37% of exchange rate variance at 4-quarter and 20-quarter horizons, respectively. The contribution of demand shocks plays an important role but not of the order of magnitude sometimes found in earlier studies. My results, however, support the recent focus of the literature on real shocks to match the empirical properties of real exchange rates.

Incidence of an outsourcing tax on intermediate inputs

The paper uses a Hecksher-Ohlin-Samuelson type general equilibrium framework to consider the incidence of an outsourcing tax on an economy in which the production of a specific intermediate input has been fragmented and outsourced. If the outsourced sector provides a non-traded input, the outsourcing tax can have adverse impact on labor even if it is the most capital-intensive sector of the economy. Thus contrary to expectations, a tax on a capital-intensive sector actually hurts labor. In the case where the intermediate input is traded, the outsourcing tax closes down either the intermediate input producing sector, or the final good producing sector which uses the intermediate input.

Poverty, Political Freedom and the Roots of Terrorism in Developing Countries: An Empirical Assessment

This paper finds that political freedom has a significant and non-linear effect on domestic terrorism, but this effect is not significant in the case of transnational terrorism. Some of our other novel findings are that while geography and fractionalization may limit a county’s ability to curb terrorism, the presence of strong legal institutions deters it.

Foreign Aid as Counterterrorism Policy

This paper presents a model where foreign aid bolsters a developing country’s proactive counterterrorism efforts against a resident transnational terrorist group. In stage 1 of the game, the donor country allocates resources to terrorism-fighting tied aid, general assistance, and defensive actions at home. The recipient country then decides its proactive campaign against the common terrorist threat in stage 2, while the terrorists direct their attacks against the donor and recipient countries in stage 3. Terrorists’ choices in the final stage provide a solid microfoundation for the terrorists’ likelihood of success function. In stage 2, greater tied aid raises the recipient country’s proactive measures and regime instability, while increased general aid reduces these proactive efforts and regime instability. In stage 1, a donor’s homeland security decisions are interdependent with its aid package to a recipient country, hosting resident transnational terrorists. This interdependency has gone unrecognized to date.

Resolving the Unbiasedness Puzzle in the Foreign Exchange Market

An unresolved puzzle in the empirical foreign exchange literature is that tests of forward rate unbiasedness using the forward rate and forward premium equations yield markedly different conclusions about the unbiasedness of the forward exchange rate. This puzzle is resolved by showing that because of the persistence in exchange rates, estimates of the slope coefficient from the forward premium equation are extremely sensitive to small violations of the null hypothesis of the type and magnitude that are likely to exist in the real world. Moreover, contrary to suggestions in the literature and common practice, the forward premium equation does not necessarily provide a better test of unbiasedness than the forward rate equation.

Mexico's Integration into NAFTA Markets: A View from Sectoral Real Exchange Rates

Using a self-exciting threshold autoregressive model, we confirm the presence of nonlinearities in sectoral real exchange rate (SRER) dynamics across Mexico, Canada and the US in the pre-NAFTA and post-NAFTA periods. Measuring transaction costs using the estimated threshold bands, we find evidence that Mexico still faces higher transaction costs than their developed counterparts. Trade liberalization is associated with reduced transaction costs and lower relative price differentials among countries. Other determinants of transaction costs are distance and nominal exchange rate volatility. Our results show that the half-lives of SRERs shocks, calculated by Monte Carlo integration, imply much faster adjustment in the post-NAFTA period.

Do European Capital Flows Comove?

We study the cross-section correlations of net, total, and disaggregated capital flows for the major source and recipient European Union countries. We seek evidence of changes in these correlations since the introduction of the euro to understand whether the European Union can be considered a unique entity with regard to its international capital flows. We make use of Ng's (2006) “uniform spacing" methodology to rank cross-section correlations and shed light on potential common factors driving international capital flows. We find that a common factor structure is suitable for equity flows disaggregated by sign but not for net and total flows. We only find mixed evidence that correlations between types of flows have changed since the introduction of the euro.

The Cyclical Properties of Disaggregated Capital Flows

We analyze the second-moment properties of the components of international capital flows and their relationship to business cycle variables (output, investment, and real interest rate) in 22 industrial and emerging countries. Total inward flows are procyclical with respect to all three macro variables. Net outward flows are countercyclical with respect to output and investment in most industrial and emerging countries. Disaggregated inward flows positively comove with output in industrial countries and with investment and the real interest rate in the G7 economies. Inward foreign direct investment is the only non-procyclical type of inward capital flows (with respect to output) in the developing economies. Formal statistical tests based on nonparametric bootstrap techniques detect significant variance increases in all G7 countries\' disaggregated capital flows over exogenous and endogenously estimated breaks.

Threshold Adjustment in Deviations from the Law of One Price

Using self-exciting threshold autoregressive models, we explore the validity of the law of one price (LOOP) for sixteen sectors in nine European countries. We and strong evidence of nonlinear mean reversion in deviations from the LOOP and highlight the importance of modelling the real exchange rate in a nonlinear fashion in an attempt to measure speeds of real exchange rate adjustment. Using the US dollar as a reference currency, the half-lives of sectoral real exchange rates shocks, calculated by Monte Carlo integration, imply much faster adjustment than the consensus half-life estimates of three to five years. The results also imply that transaction costs vary significantly across sectors and countries.

Enlargement and Common External Tariff in a Political-Economic Model of Customs Union

We present a model with three blocks of nations: two of the blocks are members of a Customs Union (CU) and maintain a common external tariff (CET) on the third (non member). One of the member blocks is a block of new entrants. The producing lobby is assumed to be union-wide and lobbies governments of both blocks to influence the CET. The CET is determined jointly by the CU. We follow the political support function approach, where the CU seeks to maximize a weighted sum of the constituents’ payoff functions. In this framework, we find the relationship between the CET and the average level of capital stock owned by the protected sector in the block of new entrants. We find that the CET is unambiguously larger if the new entrants have a larger stock of capital.


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