The Kansas City Fed's research staff members produce working papers covering a wide range of economic topics, including monetary policy, payment methods, banking and more.

Student Loan Relief Programs: Implications for Borrowers and the Federal Government

By Kelly D. Edmiston and Wenhua Di RWP 17-02, January 2017 Student loan relief plans can help struggling borrowers stay current on their debt and benefit from substantial debt write-offs in as little as 10 years, but these plans can impose a significant fiscal burden on taxpayers.

Monetary Policy and Macroeconomic Stability Revisited

By Willem Van Zandweghe, Yasuo Hirose and Takushi Kurozumi RWP 17-01, January 2017 This paper revisits the question of how the Federal Reserve achieved macroeconomic stability after the Great Inflation of the 1970s.

Sectoral Loan Concentration and Bank Performance (2001-2014)

By Rajdeep Sengupta and Kristen Regehr RWP 16-13, November 2016 Sectoral loan concentration can influence the size-profitability relationship for banks and the likelihood of bank survival. Switching specializations increases the hazard of failure but decreases the odds of being acquired.

Asset Ownership, Windfalls, and Income: Evidence from Oil and Gas Royalties

By Jason P. Brown, Timothy Fitzgerald and Jeremy G. Weber RWP 16-12, November 2016 In 2013, total oil and gas royalty-related income exceeded $64 billion. Each dollar in royalties generated an additional $0.52 of local income. Areas with locally owned resources capture $0.29 more of each dollar earned on production.

The Equilibrium Term Structure of Equity and Interest Rates

By Taeyoung Doh and Shu Wu RWP 16-11, November 2016 Doh and Wu incorporate a time-varying market price of risk into an equilibrium asset-pricing model based on long-run consumption risks that generates the term structure of bond and equity risk premia consistent with U.S. data.

The Multinational Wage Premium and Wage Dynamics

By Nicholas Sly , Gianluca Orefice and Farid Toubal RWP 16-10, November 2016 Multinational firms often enter countries through cross-border mergers and acquisitions. For the domestic firms that are acquired, foreign ownership tends to reverse years of wage declines and even promote wage gains for employees.

Price Dispersion and Inflation Persistence

By Willem Van Zandweghe and Takushi Kurozumi RWP 16-09, October 2016 This paper proposes a model of monetary policy that relies on price dispersion to explain empirical evidence on inflation persistence.

Do Bank Bailouts Reduce or Increase Systemic Risk? The Effects of TARP on Financial System Stability

By Raluca A. Roman, Allen N. Berger and John Sedunov RWP 16-08, September 2016 The TARP bailout significantly reduced contributions to systemic risk, particularly for large banks, safe banks, and banks located in strong local economies. These reductions occurred primarily through a capital cushion channel.

Optimal Monetary Policy Regime Switches

By Andrew Foerster and Jason Choi RWP 16-07, August 2016 How should monetary policy rules respond to shifts in the economy?

Recession Forecasting Using Bayesian Classification

By Troy Davig and Aaron Smalter Hall RWP 16-06, August 2016; Revised February 2017 A new approach to recession forecasting outperforms competing methods up to 12 months in advance.

Raising Capital When the Going Gets Tough: U.S. Bank Equity Issuance from 2001 to 2014

By Rajdeep Sengupta, Lamont Black and Ioannis Floros RWP 16-05, June 2016 Bank equity issuance to private investors peaked during the crisis even as investor requirements grew more stringent.

Debt-Dependent Effects of Fiscal Expansions

By Huixin Bi, Wenyi Shen and Shu-Chun S. Yang RWP 16-04, March 2016 The effects of an increase in government spending are not necessarily debt-dependent—instead, they may depend on general economic conditions as well as whether the government stabilizes debt through taxes or spending.

Productivity, Congested Commuting, and Metro Size

By Jordan Rappaport RWP 16-03, January 2016 A model of metropolitan areas shows that traffic congestion is the most important force constraining population.

The Dynamic Effects of Forward Guidance Shocks

By Brent Bundick and A. Lee Smith RWP 16-02, January 2016; Revised December 2016 Forward guidance that lowers the expected path of policy stimulates economic activity and prices.

Chargebacks: Another Payment Card Acceptance Cost for Merchants

By Fumiko Hayashi, Zach Markiewicz, and Richard Sullivan RWP 16-01, January 2016 About 50 percent of total chargebacks are due to fraud. Both the total and fraud chargeback rates are significantly higher for card-not-present transactions than for card-present transactions. Those rates also vary by merchant category.

Monetary Policy, Trend Inflation, and the Great Moderation: An Alternative Interpretation: Comment Based on System Estimation

By Willem Van Zandweghe, Yasuo Hirose and Takushi Kurozumi RWP 15-17, December 2015 This paper re-examines the role of trend inflation in the U.S. economy's shift from the Great Inflation era to the Great Moderation era.

Elastic Attention, Risk Sharing, and International Comovements

By Jun Nie, Wei Li and Yulei Luo RWP 15-16, December 2015 How does rational inattention reduce cross-country consumption correlations?

Driver of Choice? The Cost of Financial Products for Unbanked Consumers

By Fumiko Hayashi, Josh Hanson and Jesse Leigh Maniff RWP 15-15, November 2015 Prepaid cards are significantly less costly than checking accounts for unbanked consumers who make overdrafts or need short-term loans, but prepaid cards are more costly for the other unbanked consumers.

Robust Permanent Income in General Equilibrium

By Jun Nie, Yulei Luo and Eric R. Young RWP 15-14, October 2015 How do concerns about possible model misspecifications influence the equilibrium real interest rate?

Did Saving Wall Street Really Save Main Street? The Real Effects of TARP on Local Economic Conditions

By Raluca A. Roman and Allen N. Berger RWP 15-13, October 2015 We investigate whether saving Wall Street through the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) really saved Main Street during the recent financial crisis. Our difference-in-difference analysis suggests that TARP statistically and economically significantly increased net job creation and net hiring establishments and decreased business and personal bankruptcies. The results are robust, including accounting for endogeneity. The main mechanisms driving the results appear to be increases in commercial real estate lending and off-balance sheet real estate guarantees. These results suggest that saving Wall Street via TARP may have helped save Main Street, complementing the TARP literature and contributing to the cost-benefit debate.

Cash Flow and Risk Premium Dynamics in an Equilibrium Asset-Pricing Model with Recursive Preferences

By Taeyoung Doh and Shu Wu RWP 15-12, October 2015 Under linear approximations for asset prices and the assumption of independence between expected consumption growth and time-varying volatility, long-run risks models imply constant market prices of risks and often generate counterfactual results about asset return and cash flow predictability. We develop and estimate a nonlinear equilibrium asset pricing model with recursive preferences and a flexible econometric specification of cash flow processes. While in many long-run risks models time-varying volatility influences only risk premium but not expected cash flows, in our model a common set of risk factors drive both expected cash flow and risk premium dynamics. This feature helps the model to overcome two main criticisms against long-run risk models following Bansal and Yaron (2004): the over-predictability of cash flows by asset prices and the tight relation between time-varying risk premia and growth volatility. Our model extends the approach in Le and Singleton (2010) to a setting with multiple cash flows. We estimate the model using the long-run historical data in the U.S. and find that the model with generalized market prices of risks produces cash flow and return predictability that are more consistent with the data.

Did Bank Borrowers Benefit from the TARP Program? The Effects of TARP on Loan Contract Terms

By Raluca A. Roman, Allen N. Berger and Tanakorn Makaew RWP 15-11, September 2015 We study the effects of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) on loan contract terms to businesses borrowing from recipient banks.  Using a difference-in-difference analysis, we find that TARP led to more favorable terms to these borrowers in all five contract terms studied – loan amounts, spreads, maturities, collateral, and covenants. This suggests recipient banks' borrowers benefited from TARP. These findings are statistically and economically significant, and are robust to dealing with potential endogeneity issues and other checks.  The contract term improvements are concentrated primarily among safer borrowers, consistent with a decrease in the exploitation of moral hazard incentives. Benefits extended to both relationship and non-relationship borrowers, and to term loan, revolver, and other loan borrowers. Results contribute to the TARP benefits-costs debate, by adding to the list of benefits of the program.

Health-Care Reform or Labor Market Reform? A Quantitative Analysis of the Affordable Care Act

By Didem Tuzemen and Makoto Nakajima RWP 15-10, September 2015 An equilibrium model with firm and worker heterogeneity is constructed to analyze labor market and welfare implications of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Our model implies a significant reduction in the uninsured rate from 22.6 percent to 5.6 percent. The model predicts a moderate positive welfare gain from the ACA, due to redistribution of income through Health Insurance Subsidies at the Exchange as well as Medicaid expansion. About 2.1 million more part-time jobs are created under the ACA, in expense of 1.6 million full-time jobs, mainly because the link between full-time employment and health insurance is weakened. The model predicts a small negative effect on total hours worked (0.36%), partly because of the general equilibrium effect.

Shareholder Activism in Banking

By Raluca A. Roman RWP 15-09, August 2015 This paper conducts the first assessment of shareholder activism in banking and its effects on risk and performance. The focus is on the conflicts among bank shareholders, managers, and creditors (e.g., regulators, deposit insurer, taxpayers, depositors). This paper finds activism may generally be a destabilizing force, increasing bank risk-taking, but creating market value for shareholders, and leaving operating returns unchanged, consistent with the empirical dominance of the Shareholder-Creditor Conflict. However, during financial crises, the increase in risk disappears, suggesting activism risk incentives may be muted. From a public perspective, creditors (including the government) may lose during normal times, but not during financial crises.

Internationalization and Bank Risk

By Raluca A. Roman, Allen N. Berger, Sadok El Ghoul and Omrane Guedhami RWP 15-08, June 2015 This paper documents a positive relation between internationalization and bank risk. This is consistent with the empirical dominance of the market risk hypothesis – whereby internationalization increases banks' risk due to market-specific factors in foreign markets – over the diversification hypothesis – whereby internationalization allows banks to reduce risk through diversification of their operations. The results continue to hold following a variety of robustness tests, including endogeneity and sample selection bias. We also find that the magnitude of this effect is more pronounced during financial crises. The results appear to be at least partially explained by agency problems related to poor corporate governance.

Global Tax Policy and the Synchronization of Business Cycles

By Nicholas Sly and Caroline Weber RWP 15-07, August 2015 Using a 30-year panel of quarterly GDP fluctuations from of a broad set of countries, we demonstrate that the signing of a bilateral tax treaty increases the comovement of treaty partners' business cycles by 1/2 a standard deviation. This effect of fiscal policy is as large as the effect of trade linkages on comovement, and stronger than the effects of several other common financial and investment linkages. We also show that bilateral tax treaties increase comovement in shocks to nations’ GDP trends, demonstrating the permanent effects of coordination on fiscal policy rules. We estimate trend and business cycle components of nations' output series using an unobserved-components model in order to measure comovement between countries, and then estimate the impact of tax treaties using generalized estimating equations.

When Does the Cost Channel Pose a Challenge to Inflation Targeting Central Banks?

By A. Lee Smith RWP 15-06, June 2015; Revised September 2016

In a sticky-price model where firms finance their production inputs, there is both a lower and an upper bound on the central bank's inflation response necessary to rule out the possibility of self-fulfilling inflation expectations. This paper shows that real wage rigidities decrease this upper bound, but coefficients in the range of those on the Taylor rule place the economy well within the determinacy region. However, when there is time-variation in the share of firms who finance their inputs (i.e. Markov-Switching) then inflation targeting interest rate rules frequently result in indeterminacy, even if the central bank also targets output. Adding a nominal growth target to the policy rule can often alleviate this indeterminacy and therefore anchor inflation expectations.

Is Optimal Monetary Policy Always Optimal?

By Troy Davig and Refet S. Gurkaynak RWP 15-05, July 2015 No. And not only for the reason you think. In a world with multiple inefficiencies the single policy tool the central bank has control over will not undo all inefficiencies; this is well understood. We argue that the world is better characterized by multiple inefficiencies and multiple policy makers with various objectives. Asking the policy question only in terms of optimal monetary policy effectively turns the central bank into the residual claimant of all policy and gives the other policymakers a free hand in pursuing their own goals. This further worsens the tradeoffs faced by the central bank. The optimal monetary policy literature and the optimal simple rules often labeled flexible inflation targeting assign all of the cyclical policymaking duties to central banks. This distorts the policy discussion and narrows the policy choices to a suboptimal set. We highlight this issue and call for a broader thinking of optimal policies.

Capturing Rents from Natural Resource Abundance: Private Royalties from U.S. Onshore Oil & Gas Production

By Jason P. Brown, Timothy Fitzgerald and Jeremy G. Weber RWP 15-04, June 2015; Revised July 2016 We study how much private mineral owners capture geologically-driven advantages in well productivity through a higher royalty rate. Using proprietary data from nearly 1.8 million leases, we estimate that the six major shale plays generated $39 billion in private royalties in 2014. There is limited pass-through of resource abundance into royalty rates. A doubling of the ultimate recovery of the average well in a county increases the average royalty rate by 1 to 2 percentage points (a 6 to 11 percent increase). Thus, mineral owners benefit from resource abundance primarily through a quantity effect, not through negotiating better lease terms from extraction firms. The low pass-through likely reflects a combination of firms exercising market power in private leasing markets and uncertainty over the value of resource endowments.

Faster Payments in the United States: How Can Private Sector Systems Achieve Public Policy Goals?

By Fumiko Hayashi RWP 15-03, June 2015 To help private-sector faster payments systems achieve public policy goals of ubiquity, safety, and efficiency, the Federal Reserve could influence governance of the private-sector systems through its leadership role.

Credit Scoring and Loan Default

By Rajdeep Sengupta and Geetesh Bhardwaj RWP 15-02, February 2015 A metric of credit score performance is developed to study the usage and performance of credit scoring in the loan origination process. We examine the performance of origination FICO scores as measures of ex ante borrower creditworthiness using loan-level data on ex post performance of subprime mortgages. Parametric and nonparametric estimates of credit score performance reveal different trends, especially on originations with low credit scores. The data suggest a trend of increased emphasis on higher credit scores accompanying a trend of increased riskiness in other origination attributes. Over time, this increased emphasis on credit scoring coincided with deterioration in FICO performance largely due to the fact that higher credit score originations of later cohorts were more likely to have riskier attributes. However, controlling for other attributes on originations and changes in economic conditions, we find that, as measures of borrower ranking, FICO performance on subprime loans over the years remains fairly stable.

Endogenous Volatility at the Zero Lower Bound: Implications for Stabilization Policy

By Brent Bundick and Susanto Basu RWP 15-01 January 2015 At the zero lower bound, the central bank’s inability to offset shocks generates higher expected volatility. The proper design of monetary policy is crucial to avoiding bad outcomes.

To Sell or To Borrow? A Theory of Bank Liquidity Management

By Michal Kowalik RWP 14-18, December 2014 This paper studies banks' decision whether to borrow from the interbank market or to sell assets in order to cover liquidity shortage in presence of credit risk. The following trade-off arises. On the one hand, tradable assets decrease the cost of liquidity management. On the other hand, uncertainty about credit risk of tradable assets might spread from the secondary market to the interbank market, lead to liquidity shortages and socially inefficient bank failures. The paper shows that liquidity injections and liquidity requirements are effective in eliminating liquidity shortages and the asset purchases are not. The paper explains how collapse of markets for securitized assets contributed to the distress of the interbank markets in August 2007. The paper argues also why the interbank markets during the 2007-2009 crisis did not freeze despite uncertainty about banks' quality.

Search with Wage Posting under Sticky Prices

By Andrew Foerster and Jose Mustre-del-Río RWP 14-17, December 2014; Revised December 2016 In order to study the interaction between nominal rigidities, labor market frictions, and consumption risk, this paper develops a model where firms are subject to sticky prices and post wage contracts to attract risk averse workers in a frictional labor market.  Comparing a calibrated version of the model with two alternative versions--one that separates search and pricing frictions between two types of firms, and one in which a large household pools consumption risk stemming from changes in employment status--highlights the importance of integrating labor market and price-setting frictions and consumption risk.  Separating search and pricing frictions between wholesale and retail sectors increases movements in inflation while muting those in labor markets and other macroeconomic variables.  Meanwhile, using a large household to pool consumption risk significantly diminishes the effects of shocks on the output and inflation, but increases the effects on vacancies and unemployment.

Self-Employment and Health Care Reform: Evidence from Massachusetts

By Didem Tuzemen and Thealexa Becker RWP 14-16, November 2014; Revised August 2015 We study the effect of the Massachusetts health care reform on the uninsured rate and the self-employment rate in the state. The reform required all individuals to obtain health insurance, required most employers to offer health insurance to their employees, formed a private marketplace that offered subsidized health insurance options and ex- panded public insurance. We examine data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) for 1994-2012 and its Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement for 1996-2013. We show that the reform led to a dramatic reduction in the state’s uninsured rate due to increased enrollment in both public and private health insurance. Estimation results from difference-in-differences models and the synthetic control method indicate that the aggregate self-employment rate was higher in the state after the implementation of the reform. We conclude that easier access to health insurance encouraged self- employment in Massachusetts. There are many similarities between the Massachusetts health care reform and the national health care reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Based on Massachusetts’ experience, the PPACA will lower the national uninsured rate and may lead to a higher self-employment rate in the nation.

Uncertainty Shocks in a Model of Effective Demand

By Brent Bundick and Susanto Basu RWP 14-15, November 2014; Revised November 2016 Can increased uncertainty about the future cause a contraction in output and its components? This paper examines the role of uncertainty shocks in a one-sector, representative-agent, dynamic, stochastic general-equilibrium model. When prices are flexible, uncertainty shocks are not capable of producing business-cycle comovements among key macroeconomic variables. With countercyclical markups through sticky prices, however, uncertainty shocks can generate fluctuations that are consistent with business cycles. Monetary policy usually plays a key role in offsetting the negative impact of uncertainty shocks. If the central bank is constrained by the zero lower bound, then monetary policy can no longer perform its usual stabilizing function and higher uncertainty has even more negative effects on the economy. We calibrate the size of uncertainty shocks using fluctuations in the VIX and find that increased uncertainty about the future may indeed have played a significant role in worsening the Great Recession, which is consistent with statements by policymakers, economists, and the financial press.

Rational Inattention and Dynamics of Consumption and Wealth in General Equilibrium

By Jun Nie, Yulei Luo, Gaowang Wang and Eric R. Young RWP 14-14, November 2014; Revised May 2016 This paper derives the general equilibrium effects of rational inattention (or RI; Sims 2003, 2010) in a model of incomplete income insurance (Huggett 1993, Wang 2003). We first show that,under the assumption of CARA utility with Gaussian shocks, the permanent income hypothesis (PIH) arises in steady state equilibrium due to a balancing of precautionary savings and impatience. We explore how the introduction of RI can help the model fit the joint equilibrium dynamics of consumption, income, and wealth. We then contrast RI with habit formation and show that the two models make very different general equilibrium predictions, and that RI is closer to the data. We finally show that the equilibrium welfare costs of incomplete information due to RI are relatively low within the CARA-Gaussian setting.

Yield Curve and Monetary Policy Expectations in Small Open Economies

By Taeyoung Doh, Kwan Soo Bong and Woong Yong Park RWP 14-13, November 2014 This paper estimates a New Keynesian dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model in small open economies using the yield curve data as well as standard macro data. The DSGE model is estimated on the data of three inflation-targeting small open economies (Australia, Canada, and New Zealand) using Bayesian methods. We find that the long-end of the yield curve is highly correlated with the current and future short-term interest rates determined by domestic central banks. Yield curve data are particularly informative about the future stance of monetary policy in Australia and Canada in that the correlation between the model-implied monetary policy expectations and the ex-post realized policy interest rates increases when the yield curve data are used in estimation. Unlike the estimation results solely based on the macro data that imply the cental bank's relatively strong focus on inflation stabilization, our results using yield curve information suggest that even inflation-targeting central banks have a significant concern for output stabilization. We also document that persistent domestic shocks, not foreign disturbances, drive the average level of the yield curve in these three countries.

House Prices, Heterogeneous Banks and Unconventional Monetary Policy Options

By A. Lee Smith RWP 14-12, October 2014 This paper develops a financial mechanism which integrates housing and the real economy through housing-secured debt. In this environment, movements in home prices are amplified through both borrowers and banks' balance sheets, leading to a self-reinforcing credit/liquidity crunch. When placed within a traditional business cycle model, this financial structure quantitatively captures empirical relationships the traditional financial accelerator mechanism struggles to explain and the qualitative predictions of the model are consistent with dynamic responses from a VAR. The model provides a framework to examine the ability of QE policies and equity injections into big banks to mitigate a housing bust. Although both are effective, the nuances of the policies are important. A prolonged asset purchase program is preferable to a short-term equity injection; however, the model suggests the equity injections may been necessary to prevent an economic collapse at the acute stage of the 2008 Financial Crisis.

A Model of Monetary Policy Shocks for Financial Crises and Normal Conditions

By A. Lee Smith, John W. Keating, Logan J. Kelly and Victor J. Valcarcel RWP 14-11, October 2014; Revised October 2016 Deteriorating economic conditions in late 2008 led the Federal Reserve to lower the target federal funds rate to near zero, inject liquidity into the financial system through novel facilities, and engage in large scale asset purchases. The combination of conventional and unconventional policy measures prevents using the effective federal funds rate to assess the effects of monetary policy in samples that extend beyond 2008. This paper develops an approach to identify the effects of monetary policy shocks in such instances. We employ a newly created broad monetary aggregate to elicit the effects of monetary policy shocks both prior to and after 2008. Our model is bolstered by its ability to produce plausible responses to monetary policy shocks free from price, output, and liquidity puzzles that have plagued other approaches.

New Exporter Dynamics

By Jonathan L. Willis and Kim J. Ruhl RWP 14-10, July 2014 Models in which heterogeneous plants face sunk export entry costs are standard tools in the international trade literature. How well do these models account for the observed dynamics of new exporters? We document that new exporters initially export small amounts and — conditional on continuing in the export market — grow gradually over several years. New exporters are most likely to exit the export market in their first few years. We construct a dynamic discrete choice model of exporting and find that the standard model cannot replicate the behavior of new exporters: New exporters grow too large too quickly and live too long. We assess the quantitative importance of accounting for new exporter dynamics by extending the model to account for these facts. In this model, the present value of exporting falls relative to the baseline model. As a result, the entry costs needed to account for the data are three times smaller than in the baseline model.

Monocentric City Redux

By Jordan Rappaport RWP 14-09, November 2014 This paper argues that centralized employment remains an empirically relevant stylization of midsize U.S. metros. It extends the monocentric model to explicitly include leisure as a source of utility but constrains workers to supply fixed labor hours. Doing so sharpens the marginal disutility from longer commutes. The numerical implementation calibrates traffic congestion to tightly match observed commute times in Portland, Oregon. The implied geographic distribution of CBD workers' residence tightly matches that of Portland. The implied population density, land price, and house price gradients approximately match empirical estimates. Variations to the baseline calibration build intuition on underlying mechanics.

Recurrent Overdrafts: A Deliberate Decision by Some Prepaid Cardholders?

By Fumiko Hayashi and Emily Cuddy RWP 14-08, October 2014; Revised October 2015 Overdrafts have been an ongoing concern of policymakers, and they are one of the main issues being considered for prepaid card rules that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is currently drafting. Despite regulatory interventions and heated debate between proponents and opponents of further intervention, little research has been conducted to understand the overdraft behavior of prepaid cardholders. This paper attempts to fill that gap by analyzing a large micro-level dataset of general purpose reloadable (GPR) prepaid cardholders. We find that a small percentage of GPR prepaid cardholders regularly make overdraft transactions and incur overdraft fees, but they tend to spend and load more funds on their card as well as use their card for a longer period of time than do cardholders who do not make overdraft transactions. Our results suggest that some cardholders may be making a deliberate decision to overdraw their account and pay overdraft fees.

A Pitfall of Expectational Stability Analysis

By Willem Van Zandweghe and Takushi Kurozumi RWP 14-07, October 2014 A pitfall of expectational stability (E-stability) analysis can arise in models with multiperiod expectations: if an auxiliary variable is introduced as substitute for an expectational endogenous variable in such a model, this shrinks the region of the model parameters that guarantee E-stability of a fundamental rational expectations equilibrium. Moreover, in the model representation with no auxiliary variable, the same E-stability region as in that with the auxiliary variable is obtained if economic agents are assumed to make multiple forecasts in an inconsistent manner. Therefore, we argue that the introduction of an auxiliary variable as substitute for an expectational endogenous variable in models with multi-period expectations can induce misleading implications that are biased toward E-instability.

Productivity, Nationalization, and the Role of "News": Lessons from the 1970s

By Nida Cakir Melek RWP 14-06, June 2014; Revised July 2016 The number of occurrences of an old phenomenon, expropriation of foreign-owned property, had peaked in the 1970s, and virtually every significant oil-producing developing country had nationalized its oil. Nationalization again was on the rise in the 2000s. Using novel data, this paper examines nationalization and its effect on productivity. First, we document historical global trends in expropriations, and examine the effect from the 1960s to the 1990s in a sample of oil-producing developing countries. We show that nationalization brings significant productivity losses. Then, we focus on Venezuela, presenting new extensive and detailed data. In Venezuela, productivity fell sharply immediately ahead of nationalization. We suggest a less-explored channel through which nationalization affects productivity: in anticipation of nationalization, producers reduce exploration, lower employment, and increase extraction. Guided by a quantitative dynamic partial equilibrium framework for nonrenewable resources disciplined by features of the Venezuelan data, we then examine the effect of nationalization on productivity. A comparison of the simulated and time series shows that the carefully calibrated model can explain 84 percent of the productivity pattern over 1961-1980 in the Venezuelan oil industry.

Location Decisions of Natural Gas Extraction Establishments: A Smooth Transition Count Model Approach

By Jason P. Brown and Dayton M. Lambert RWP 14-05, April 2014 The economic geography of the United States' energy landscape changed rapidly with domestic expansion of the natural gas sector. Recent work with smooth transition parameter models is extended to an establishment location model estimated using Poisson regression to test whether expansion of this sector, as evidenced by firm location decisions from 2005 to 2010, is characterized by different growth regimes. Results suggest business establishment growth of firms engaged in natural gas extraction was faster when the average area of shale and tight gas transition coverage in neighboring counties exceeded 17%. Local agglomeration externalities, access to skilled labor and transportation infrastructure were of more economic importance to location decisions in the high growth regime. Accordingly, growth rates were heterogeneous across the lower 48 States, suggesting potentially different outcomes with respect to local investment decisions supporting this sector.

Uncertainty and Fiscal Cliffs

By Troy Davig and Andrew Foerster RWP 14-04, April 2014; Revised August 2015 Motivated by the US Fiscal Cliff in 2012, this paper considers the short- and longer- term impact of uncertainty generated by fiscal policy. Empirical evidence shows increases in economic policy uncertainty lower investment and employment. Investment that is longer-lived and subject to a longer planning horizon responds to policy uncertainty with a lag, while capital that depreciates more quickly and can be installed with few costs falls immediately. A DSGE model incorporating uncertainty over future tax regimes produces responses to fiscal uncertainty that match key features of the data. The model features uncertainty over the average tax rate and rational expectations about the resolution of uncertainty with specific outcomes and timing. Uncertainty injects noise into the economy and lowers the level of economic activity.

A Quantitative System of Monocentric Metros

By Jordan Rappaport RWP 14-03, March 2014; Revised July 2014 The monocentric city framework is generalized to comprise a system of metros. A "representative" closed metro calibrates parameters and establishes a reservation utility and perimeter land price that must be matched by open metros. The open metros are assumed to have exogenous productivity below and above that in the representative metro. For a given level of productivity, transportation technology proves to be the most important quantitative determinant of population, land area, population density, and house prices across and within metros. Changes in highway capacity primarily affect these quantities while leaving commute speeds unchanged. Open metro land area asymptotes to a maximum at only moderately high relative productivity. Open metro land area and population fall to near zero at only moderately low relative productivity. Individuals with long commutes who are required to work a fixed number of hours have a marginal value of leisure time that is far above their wage. The framework yields a number of quantitative insights into how preferences, production technologies, and transportation technologies shape outcomes within and across metros.

Consumer Debt Dynamics: Follow the Increasers

By John Carter Braxton and Edward S. Knotek II RWP 14-02, March 2014 Consumer debt played a central role in creating the U.S. housing bubble, the ensuing housing downturn, and the Great Recession, and it has been blamed as a factor in the weak subsequent recovery as well. This paper uses micro-level data to decompose consumer debt dynamics by separating the actions of consumer debt increasers and decreasers, and then further decomposing movements into percentage and size margins among the increasers and decreasers. We view such a decomposition as informative for macroeconomic models featuring a central role for consumer debt. Using this framework, we show that variations in borrowing activity among the increasers explain four times as much of the total variation in consumer debt as variations among the decreasers who are shedding debt, whether through paydowns or defaults. We also provide micro-level evidence of a sharp decline in the percentage of increasers during the financial crisis that is qualitatively consistent with a binding zero lower bound on nominal interest rates, and evidence of a cycle in the average size of debt changes among the increasers that is related to rising collateral values pre-crisis coupled with additional financial frictions after the crisis.

General Purpose Reloadable Prepaid Cards: Penetration, Use, Fees and Fraud Risks

By Fumiko Hayashi and Emily Cuddy RWP 14-01, February 2014 Prepaid cards are the most rapidly growing payment instrument. General purpose reloadable (GPR) prepaid cards, in particular, have gained considerable traction especially among the unbanked and underbanked. How these cards are used is now of acute interest to both policymakers, seeking to ensure broad access to electronic payment methods, consumer protection for prepaid cards, and payments system security, and to payment card industry participants, desiring to advance their product offerings and business models. This study examines the end-user experience of using a GPR card. It investigates which factors, if any, affect the intensity and duration of GPR card use, estimates the fee burden associated with various card usage patterns, and calculates fraud rates by transaction and merchant type. Because we lack cardholder information other than zip code, we supplement our card data with local demographic and socioeconomic data to test whether these factors are correlated with the observed variation in card use and incurred fees. Our results suggest that both account and local socio-demographic characteristics significantly influence the life span, the load and debit activities, the shares of purchase and cash withdrawals, and the average number and value of fees incurred per month, and that transaction and merchant types influence the rate of fraudulent transactions.

Human Capital Dynamics and the U.S. Labor Market

By Jun Nie and Lei Fang (RWP 13-10, January 2014)
The high U.S. unemployment rate after the Great Recession is usually considered as a result of changes in factors influencing either the demand side or the supply side of the labor market. However, no matter what factors have caused the changes in the unemployment rate, these factors should have influenced workers' and firms' decisions. Therefore, it is important to take into account workers' endogenous responses to changes in various factors when seeking to understand how these factors a ect the unemployment rate. To address this issue, we estimate a Mortensen-Pissarides style labor-market matching model with endogenous separation decisions and stochastic changes in workers' human capital. We study how agents' endogenous choices vary with changes in the exogenous shocks and changes in labor-market policy in the context of human capital dynamics. There are four main findings. First, once workers have accounted for and are able to optimally respond to possible human capital loss, the unemployment rate in an economy with human capital loss during unemployment will not be higher than in an economy with no human capital loss. The reason is that the increase in the unemployment rate led by human capital loss is more than o set by workers' endogenous responses to prevent them from being unemployed. Second, human capital accumulation on the job is more important than human capital loss during unemployment for both the unemployment rate and output. Third, workers' endogenous separation rates will decline when job finding rates fall. Fourth, taking into account the endogenous responses, UI extensions contributed 0.5 percentage point to the increase in the aggregate unemployment rate in the 2008-2012 period.

Wealth Distribution with State-dependent Risk Aversion

By Rong-Wei Chu, Jun Nie and Bei Zhang (RWP 13-09, January 2014)
A growing body of literature has suggested that agents' risk attitudes may not be constant and are correlated with factors such as wealth. We introduce state-dependent risk aversion into Aiyagari's (1994) heterogenous-agent version of standard neoclassical growth model with uninsurable idiosyncratic shocks to earning. We first quantitatively show the relationships among risk aversion, saving rate, equilibrium interest rate and wealth distribution. In particular, we show that if agent's risk aversion increases with wealth, the model predicts a larger wealth inequality, while assuming risk decreases with wealth leads to a smaller wealth inequality. We then use experimental data to estimate how risk aversion is correlated with an individual's wealth. We found that the relationship between risk aversion and wealth is hump-shaped. That is, risk aversion first increases with an individual's wealth and then decreases with it. Using the same model, we quantify the implication of this relationship between risk aversion and wealth on wealth inequality. The results show that the overall wealth inequality changes very little compared to the case with constant risk aversion. This is because, though the poorest agents save less, which increases wealth inequality, the richest agents also save less, which reduces the wealth inequality. Putting these two together, it leaves the overall wealth inequality implied by the model similar to that of the case of constant risk aversion.

Kinked Demand Curves, the Natural Rate Hypothesis, and Macroeconomic Stability

By Takushi Kurozumi and Willem Van Zandweghe (RWP 13-08, June 2013; Revised February 2015)
In the presence of staggered price setting, high trend inflation induces a large deviation of steady-state output from its natural rate and indeterminacy of equilibrium under the Taylor rule. This paper examines the implications of a ''smoothed-off'' kink in demand curves for the natural rate hypothesis and macroeconomic stability using a canonical model with staggered price setting, and sheds light on the relationship between the hypothesis and the Taylor principle. An empirically plausible calibration of the model shows that the kink in demand curves mitigates the influence of price dispersion on aggregate output, thereby ensuring that the violation of the natural rate hypothesis is minor and preventing fluctuations driven by self-fulfilling expectations under the Taylor rule.

Rural Wealth Creation and Emerging Energy Industries: Lease and Royalty Payments to Farm Households and Businesses

By Jeremy G. Weber, Jason P. Brown, and John Pender (RWP 13-07, June 2013)
New technologies for accessing energy resources, changes in global energy markets, and government policies have encouraged growth in the natural gas and wind industries in the 2000s. The growth has offered new opportunities for wealth creation in many rural areas. At a local level, households who own land or mineral rights can benefit from energy development through lease and royalty payments. Using nationally-representative data on U.S. farms from 2011, we assess the consumption, investment, and wealth implications of the $2.3 billion in lease and royalty payments that energy companies paid to farm businesses. We estimate that the savings of current energy payments combined with the effect of payments on land values added $104,000 in wealth for the average recipient farm.

Creditor Recovery: The Macroeconomic Dependence of Industry Equilibrium

By Nada Mora (RWP 13-06, June 2013; Revised December 2014)
This paper reconciles industry conditions with the state of the economy in driving asset liquidation values and, therefore, recovery rates on defaulted debt securities. Macroeconomic effects matter but they operate differentially at the industry level. I find that industries whose sales growth is more correlated with GDP growth recover less during recessions. And industries that are more dependent on external finance recover more when the stock market rises. Direct measures of industry distress and industry fundamental value, in addition to measures of bond market illiquidity, enter with reduced economic and statistical significance once the constraint that the macroeconomy should have a uniform effect is relaxed. The results of this paper are not incompatible with the industry-equilibrium view put forward by Shleifer and Vishny (1992) and others, but it unmasks a channel of transmission from the macroeconomy.

Predicting Recessions with Leading Indicators: Model Averaging and Selection Over the Business Cycle

By Travis Berge (RWP 13-05, April 2013)
This paper evaluates the ability of several commonly followed economic indicators to predict business cycle turning points. As a baseline, forecasts from univariate models are combined by taking averages or by weighting forecasts with model-implied posterior probabilities. These combined forecasts are compared to those from a sophisticated model selection algorithm that allows for nonlinear model specifications. The preferred forecasting model is one that allows for nonlinear behavior across the business cycle and combines information from the yield curve with other indicators, especially at very short and very long horizons.

Monetary Policy Regime Switches and Macroeconomic Dynamics

By Andrew Foerster (RWP 13-04, June 2013; Revised November 2014)
This paper investigates how different monetary policy regime switching types impact macroeconomic dynamics. Policy switches that either affect the inflation target or the response to inflation deviations from target lead to different determinacy regions and different output, inflation, and interest rate distributions. With regime switching, the standard Taylor Principle breaks down in multiple ways; satisfying the Principle period-by-period is neither necessary nor sufficient for determinacy. Switching inflation targets primarily affects the economy's level, whereas switching inflation responses affects the variance. Even in periods with a fixed monetary policy rule, expectations of future policy switches produce different outcomes depending upon the switching type. Monetary authorities with given inflation objectives need to adjust their policy parameters to counteract expectations of future policy switches.

Revisiting Initial Jobless Claims as a Labor Market Indicator

By John Carter Braxton (RWP 13-03, May 2013; Revised March 2014)
Initial jobless claims provide a weekly snapshot of the labor market. While known for being volatile, when put into the appropriate context initial jobless claims provide valuable information on the state of the labor market. This paper introduces a threshold of initial jobless claims that serves as a basis of comparison for the weekly reading of initial jobless claims. Observed initial jobless claims above the threshold are associated with a rising unemployment rate, and vice versa. The results of an out of sample forecasting experiment show that considering the deviation of initial jobless claims from the threshold of initial claims can improve forecasting accuracy of one month ahead unemployment rate forecasts by three times more than using a conventional rule of thumb for initial jobless claims as well as outperform several time series models. The improvements in forecasting accuracy are strongest during recessions. The results of this paper suggest that there could be benefits to producing nowcasting models of the unemployment rate that incorporate initial jobless claims. Finally, as initial jobless claims are a measure of separations and are shown to aid in forecasting the unemployment rate, it appears that separations do play some role in influencing the unemployment rate.

The Settlement of the United States, 1800 to 2000: The Long Transition Toward Gibrat's Law

By Klaus Desmet and Jordan Rappaport (RWP 13-02, February 2013; Revised August 2014 - Online Appendix)
This paper studies the long run development of U.S. counties and metro areas from 1800 to 2000. In earlier periods smaller counties converge whereas larger counties diverge. Over time, due to changes in the age composition of locations and net congestion, convergence dissipates and divergence weakens. Gibrat's law emerges gradually without fully attaining it. Our findings suggest that orthogonal growth is a consequence of reaching a steady state population distribution, rather than an explanation of that distribution. A simple one-sector model, with entry of new locations, a growth friction, and decreasing net congestion closely matches these and related dynamics.

Perturbation Methods for Markov-Switching DSGE Models

By Andrew Foerster, Juan Rubio-Ramirez, Dan Waggoner, and Tao Zha (RWP 13-01, February 2013; Revised November 2015)
This paper develops a general perturbation methodology for constructing high-order approximations to the solutions of Markov-switching DSGE models. We introduce an important and practical idea of partitioning the Markov-switching parameter space so that a steady state is well defined. With this definition, we show that the problem of finding an approximation of any order can be reduced to solving a system of quadratic equations. We propose using the theory of Gröbner bases in searching all the solutions to the quadratic system. This approach allows us to obtain all the approximations and ascertain how many of them are stable. Our methodology is applied to three models to illustrate its feasibility and practicality.

Slow Information Diffusion and the Inertial Behavior of Durable Consumption

By Yulei Luo, Jun Nie, and Eric R. Young (RWP 12-11, March 2013; Revised March 2014)
This paper studies the aggregate dynamics of durable and nondurable consumption under sticky information diffusion (SID) due to noisy observations and slow learning within the permanent income framework. We show that SID can significantly improve the model's predictions on the joint behavior of income, durable, and nondurable consumption at the aggregate level. Specifically, we find that SID can help generate (i) realistic smoothness in durable and nondurable consumption, (ii) the autocorrelation of durable consumption, and (iii) the contemporaneous correlation between durable and nondurable consumption. Furthermore, we show that incorporating a fixed cost into our SID model does a better job of reproducing the infrequent adjustments of durable consumption at the individual level and the slow adjustments at the aggregate level.

Drifting Inflation Targets and Stagflation

By Edward S. Knotek II and Shujaat Khan (RWP 12-10, November 2012)
This paper revisits the phenomenon of stagflation. Using a standard New Keynesian dynamic, stochastic general equilibrium model, we show that stagflation from monetary policy alone is a very common occurrence when the economy is subject to both deviations from the policy rule and a drifting inflation target. Once the inflation target is fixed, the incidence of stagflation in the baseline model is essentially eliminated. In contrast with several other recent papers that have focused on the connection between monetary policy and stagflation, we show that while high uncertainty about monetary policy actions can be conducive to the occurrence of stagflation, imperfect information more generally is not a requisite channel to generate stagflation.

Trend Inflation and Equilibrium Stability: Firm-Specific versus Homogeneous Labor

By Takushi Kurozumi and Willem Van Zandweghe (RWP 12-09, December 2012; Revised August 2015)
In sticky price models based on micro evidence that each period a fraction of prices is kept unchanged, recent studies reach the qualitatively same conclusion that higher trend inflation is a more serious source of indeterminacy of rational expectations equilibrium, regardless of whether labor is firm-specific or homogeneous. This paper shows that the model with firm-specific labor is more susceptible to indeterminacy induced by high trend inflation than the model with homogeneous labor, because these two different specifications of labor lead to distinct representations of inflation dynamics. In addition, the model with firm-specific labor is more susceptible to expectational instability of the equilibrium caused by high trend inflation.

Job Duration and Match Quality Over the Cycle

By Jose Mustre-del-Rio (RWP 12-08, November 2012; Revised September 2016)
This paper examines how job quality varies over the cycle. Empirical evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) suggests match quality is procyclical. This interpretation is corroborated in a calibrated model with on-the-job search. In the model, more high quality matches are observed in expansions because of improved reallocation through on-the-job search. This effect, however, is dominated by lower job destruction in expansions, which preserves matches at the bottom of the quality distribution.

Labor Market Dynamics with Endogenous Labor Force Participation and On-the-Job Search

By Didem Tuzemen (RWP 12-07, October 2012)
Studies that incorporate endogenous labor force participation, and search and matching frictions in a real business cycle model find that this three-state model generates counterfactual results: labor force participation is very volatile, unemployment is acyclical and highly positively correlated with vacancies. Based on the evidence that job-to-job flows are large in the U.S. labor market, this paper enriches the three-state model with an on-the-job search mechanism which leads to job-to-job flows. The modified model successfully generates countercyclical unemployment and the Beveridge Curve relationship. Quantitatively, business cycle statistics reproduced by the modified model are more in line with their empirical counterparts.

Financial Frictions and Occupational Mobility

By William B. Hawkins and Jose Mustre-del-Rio (RWP 12-06, October 2012; Revised June 2016)
We study the effects of financial market incompleteness on occupational mobility. Incomplete insurance reduces occupational mobility and, as a result, the correlation of labor supply with occupational productivity is lower than under complete markets. Low-asset workers remain in low-productivity occupations even when the expected value of switching is positive. Negative occupational productivity shocks therefore have larger effects on such workers' future earnings than they would for better insured workers. In a model calibrated to match observations from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), we find welfare costs of market in-completeness averaging 2.4 percent of lifetime consumption. We examine policies to increase occupational mobility. A subsidy to retraining costs increases mobility significantly and is welfare improving for agents stuck in low-productivity occupations. Meanwhile, a proportional tax on labor income decreases mobility, but naturally improves welfare through redistribution.

Student Loans: Overview and Issues (Update)

By Kelly Edmiston, Lara Brooks, and Steven Shepelwich (RWP 12-05, August 2012; Revised April 2013)
This paper provides a detailed overview of the student loan market, presents new statistics that highlight student loan debt burdens and delinquency rates, and discusses current concerns among many Americans about student loans, including their fiscal impact. The report is intended to enhance awareness of the state of student loan debt and delinquency and highlight issues facing borrowers, creditors, the federal government, and society at large. The clear message is that student loans present problems for some borrowers that are well worth addressing. At the same time, the analysis suggests that student loans do not yet impose a significant burden on society from their fiscal impact.

The State Space Representation and Estimation of a Time-Varying Parameter VAR with Stochastic...

By Taeyoung Doh and Michael Connolly (RWP 12-04, July 2012)
To capture the evolving relationship between multiple economic variables, time variation in either coefficients or volatility is often incorporated into vector autoregressions (VARs). The state space representation that links the transition of possibly unobserved state variables with observed variables is a useful tool to estimate VARs with time-varying coefficients or stochastic volatility. In this paper, we discuss how to estimate VARs with time-varying coefficients or stochastic volatility using the state space representation. We focus on Bayesian estimation methods which have become popular in the literature. As an illustration of the estimation methodology, we estimate a time-varying parameter VAR with stochastic volatility with the three U.S. macroeconomic variables including inflation, unemployment, and the long-term interest rate. Our empirical analysis suggests that the recession of 2007-2009 was driven by a particularly bad shock to the unemployment rate which increased its trend and volatility substantially. In contrast, the impacts of the recession on the trend and volatility of nominal variables such as the core PCE inflation rate and the ten-year Treasury bond yield are less noticeable.

Effects of Credit Scores on Consumer Payment Choice

By Fumiko Hayashi and Joanna Stavins (RWP 12-03, February 2012)
This paper investigates the effects of credit scores on consumer payment behavior, especially on debit and credit card use. Anecdotally, a negative relationship between debit card use and credit score has been reported; however, it is not clear whether that relationship is related to other factors, such as education or income, or whether it is a mere correlation. We use a new consumer survey dataset to examine whether this negative relationship holds after controlling for various consumer characteristics, including demographic and financial characteristics, consumers' perceptions toward payment methods, and card reward status. The results based on a single-year survey as well as on panel data suggest that there is a significant negative relationship between debit card use and credit score even after controlling for various characteristics. We supplement the analysis with evidence from Equifax data. The results indicate that an increase in consumers' cost of debit cards—in response to regulatory changes, for example—would have an adverse effect on low-credit-score consumers (typically those with lower incomes and less education).

We then investigate what credit score implies. If credit score significantly influences consumer access to credit cards, credit limits, or the cost of credit cards, then the negative relationship likely results from supply-side constraints. If a lower credit score is associated with differences in underlying preferences, then the negative relationship is likely due to demand-side effects. Preliminary evidence strongly suggests that supply-side factors play an important role in the cost of credit and in access to credit.

Model Uncertainty, State Uncertainty, and State-space Models

By Yulei Luo, Jun Nie and Eric R. Young (RWP 12-02, January 2012; Revised February 2012)
State-space models have been increasingly used to study macroeconomic and financial problems. A state space representation consists of two equations, a measurement equation which links the observed variables to unobserved state variables and a transition equation describing the dynamics of the state variables. In this paper, we show that a classic linear-quadratic macroeconomic framework which incorporates two new assumptions can be analytically solved and explicitly mapped to a state-space representation. The two assumptions we consider are the model uncertainty due to concerns for model misspecification (robustness) and the state uncertainty due to limited information constraints (rational inattention). We show that the state-space representation of the observable and unobservable can be used to quantify the key parameters on the degree of model uncertainty. We provide examples on how this framework can be used to study a range of interesting questions in macroeconomics and international economics.

Model Uncertainty and Intertemporal Tax Smoothing

By Yulei Luo, Jun Nie and Eric R. Young (RWP 12-01, January 2012; Revised June 2014)
In this paper we examine how model uncertainty due to the preference for robustness (RB) affects optimal taxation and the evolution of debt in the Barro tax-smoothing model (1979). We first study how the government spending shocks are absorbed in the short run by varying taxes or through debt under RB. Furthermore, we show that introducing RB improves the model’s predictions by generating (i) the observed relative volatility of the changes in tax rates to government spending, (ii) the observed comovement between government deficits and spending, and (iii) more consistent behavior of government budget deficits in the US economy.

A Bayesian Evaluation of Alternative Models of Trend Inflation

By Todd E. Clark and Taeyoung Doh (RWP 11-16, November 2011)
The concept of trend inflation is important in making accurate inflation forecasts. However, there is little consensus on how the trend in inflation should be modeled. While some studies suggest a survey-based measure of long-run inflation expectations as a good empirical proxy for trend inflation, others have argued for a statistical exercise of decomposing inflation data into trend and cycle components.

In this paper, we assess alternative models of trend inflation based on the accuracy of medium-term inflation forecasts. To incorporate recent evidence on the time-varying macroeconomic volatility, we consider models with both constant volatility and time-varying volatility. For all the models, we compare not only point predictions but also density forecasts, such as deflation probability.

Our analysis yields two broad results. First, models with time-varying volatility consistently dominate those with constant volatility. Second, once time-varying volatility is incorporated, it is difficult to say that one model of trend inflation is better. Simply averaging forecasts with time-varying volatility is as good as forecasts from the best-fitting model. In addition, the relative performance of each model varies greatly over time. Overall, our results suggest that it is important to consider predictions from a range of models with time-varying volatility.

What Can Financial Stability Reports Tell Us About Macroprudential Supervision?

By Jon Christensson, Kenneth Spong, and Jim Wilkinson (RWP 11-15, December 2011)
Many countries have suggested macroprudential supervision as a means for earlier identification and better control of the risks that might lead to a financial crisis. Since macroprudential supervision would focus on the financial system in its entirety and on major risks that could threaten financial stability, it shares many of the same goals as the financial stability reports written by most central banks. This article examines the financial stability reports of five central banks to assess how effective they were in identifying the problems that led to the recent financial crisis and what implications they might have for macroprudential supervision.
The financial stability reports in these five countries were generally successful in foreseeing the risks that contributed to the crisis, but the reports underestimated the severity of the crisis and did not fully anticipate the timing and pattern of important events. While the stress tests in these reports provided insights into the resiliency and capital needs of the banks in these countries, the stresses and scenarios tested often differed from what actually occurred and some of the reports did not consider them to be likely events. One other major challenge for the central banks was in taking the concerns expressed in financial stability reports and linking them to effective and timely supervisory policy. Overall, the reports were a worthwhile exercise in identifying and monitoring key financial trends and emerging risks, but they also indicate the significant challenges macroprudential supervision will have in anticipating and addressing financial market disruptions.

A Chronology of Turning Points in Economic Activity: Spain 1850-2011

By Travis J. Berge and Òscar Jordà (RWP 11-14, November 2011)
This paper codifies in a systematic and transparent way a historical chronology of business cycle turning points for Spain reaching back to 1850 at annual frequency, and 1939 at monthly frequency. Such an exercise would be incomplete without assessing the new chronology itself and against others —this we do with modern statistical tools of signal detection theory. We also use these tools to determine which of several existing economic activity indexes provide a better signal on the underlying state of the economy. We conclude by evaluating candidate leading indicators and hence construct recession probability forecasts up to 12 months in the future.

A Chronology of International Business Cycles Through Non-parametric Decoding

By Hsieh Fushing, Shu-Chun Chen, Travis J. Berge, and Òscar Jordà (RWP 11-13, October 2010)
This paper introduces a new empirical strategy for the characterization of business cycles. It combines non-parametric decoding methods that classify a series into expansions and recessions but does not require specification of the underlying stochastic process generating the data. It then uses network analysis to combine the signals obtained from different economic indicators to generate a unique chronology. These methods generate a record of peak and trough dates comparable, and in one sense superior, to the NBER's own chronology. The methods are then applied to 22 OECD countries to obtain a global business cycle chronology.

Forecasting Disconnected Exchange Rates

By Travis J. Berge (RWP 11-12, November 2011)
Catalyzed by the work of Meese and Rogoff (1983), a large literature has documented the inability of empirical models to accurately forecast exchange rates out-of-sample. This paper extends the literature by introducing an empirical strategy that endogenously builds forecast models from a broad set of conventional exchange rate signals. The method is extremely flexible, allowing for potentially nonlinear models for each currency and forecast horizon that evolve over time. Analysis of the models selected by the procedure sheds light on the erratic behavior of exchange rates and their apparent disconnect from macroeconomic fundamentals. In terms of forecast ability, the Meese-Rogoff result remains intact. At short horizons, the method cannot outperform a random walk, although at longer horizons the method does outperform the random walk null. These findings are found consistently across currencies and forecast evaluation methods.

Estimating VAR's Sampled at Mixed or Irregular Spaced Frequencies: A Bayesian Approach

By Ching Wai (Jeremy) Chiu, Bjørn Eraker, Andrew T. Foerster, Tae Bong Kim, and Hernán D. Seoane
(RWP 11-11 December 2011)
Economic data are collected at various frequencies but econometric estimation typically uses the coarsest frequency. This paper develops a Gibbs sampler for estimating VAR models with mixed and irregularly sampled data. The approach allows efficient likelihood inference even with irregular and mixed frequency data. The Gibbs sampler uses simple conjugate posteriors even in high dimensional parameter spaces, avoiding a non-Gaussian likelihood surface even when the Kalman filter applies. Two applications illustrate the methodology and demonstrate efficiency gains from the mixed frequency estimator: one constructs quarterly GDP estimates from monthly data, the second uses weekly financial data to inform monthly output.

Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Developments and Neighborhood Property Conditions

By Kelly D. Edmiston (RWP 11-10 December 2011)
Public housing has long been a contentious issue for cities and regions. While there is a great need for affordable housing in many communities, neighbors of low-income housing developments fret about neighborhood decay. This paper evaluates the notion that low-income housing developments damage the communities in which they are placed. The focus is on the evaluation of low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) financed developments, and the neighborhood indicator of interest is the physical condition of nearby properties. The results of the empirical analysis suggest that proximity to LIHTC developments generally has a positive impact on neighborhood property conditions. However, extended analysis that separates LIHTC developments by type and size suggests that only small new construction developments and large rehab developments impact neighborhood property conditions. Further analysis reveals that when the model does not control for crime, the effect of proximity to LIHTC developments on property conditions is negative.

The Aggregate Implications of Individual Labor Supply Heterogeneity

By José Mustre-del-Río (RWP 11-09 December 2011)
This paper examines the Frisch elasticity at the extensive margin of labor supply in an economy consistent with the observed dispersion in average employment rates across individuals. An incomplete markets economy with indivisible labor is presented where agents differ in their disutility of labor and market skills. The model's key parameters are estimated using indirect inference with panel data from the National Longitudinal Survey of the Youth-NLSY. The estimated model implies an elasticity of aggregate employment of 0.71. A simple decomposition reveals that labor disutility dierences, which capture the dispersion in employment rates, are crucial for this quantitative result. These differences alone generate an elasticity of 0.69. Meanwhile, skill differences alone imply an elasticity of 1.1. These results suggest that the literature generates large employment elasticities by ignoring individual labor supply differences.

Commodity Dependence and Fiscal Capacity

By Mauricio Cárdenas, Santiago Ramírez, and Didem Tuzemen (RWP 11-08 December 2011)
This paper shows that higher commodity dependence reduces the government's incentive to invest in fiscal capacity. After developing a model that makes this prediction, evidence is provided supporting the view that countries more dependent on commodities (whose rents can be easily appropriated by the government, such as oil) have weaker fiscal capacity. Also, fiscal capacity is found to improve less over time in commodity dependent countries relative to countries where commodity exports play a less relevant role. These empirical results are obtained in a panel dataset with estimators that address endogeneity issues.

Under-Investment in State Capacity: The Role of Inequality and Political Instability

By Mauricio Cárdenas and Didem Tuzemen (RWP 11-07 December 2011)
Existing studies have shown that the state's ability to tax, also known as fiscal capacity, is positively related to economic development. In this paper, we analyze the determinants of the government's decision to invest in state capacity, which involves a trade-off between present consumption and the ability to collect more taxes in the future. Using a model, we highlight some political and economic dimensions of this decision and conclude that political stability, democracy, income inequality, as well as the valuation of public goods relative to private goods, are important variables to consider. We then test the main predictions of the model using cross-country data and find that state capacity is higher in more stable and equal societies, both in economic and political terms, and in countries where the chances of fighting an external war are high, which is a proxy for the value of public goods.

Are Banks Passive Liquidity Backstops? Deposit Rates and Flows during the 2007-2009 Crisis

By Viral V. Acharya and Nada Mora (RWP 11-06 December 2011)
Can banks maintain their advantage as liquidity providers when they are heavily exposed to a financial crisis? The standard argument - that banks can - hinges on deposit inflows that are seeking a safe haven and provide banks with a natural hedge to fund drawn credit lines and other commitments. We shed new light on this issue by studying the behavior of bank deposit rates and inflows during the 2007-09 crisis. Our results indicate that the role of the banking system as a stabilizing liquidity insurer is not one of the passive recipient, but of an active seeker, of deposits. We find that banks facing a funding squeeze sought to attract deposits by offering higher rates. Banks offering higher rates were also those most exposed to liquidity demand shocks (as measured by their unused commitments, wholesale funding dependence, and limited liquid assets), as well as with fundamentally weak balance-sheets (as measured by their non-performing loans or by subsequent failure). Such rate increases have a competitive effect in that they lead other banks to offer higher rates as well. Overall, the results present a nuanced view of deposit rates and flows to banks in a crisis, one that reflects banks not just as safety havens but also as stressed entities scrambling for deposits.

Who Offers Tax-Based Business Development Incentives?

By Alison Felix and James R. Hines Jr. (RWP 11-05 November 2011)
Many American communities seek to attract or retain businesses with tax abatements, tax credits, or tax increment financing of infrastructure projects (TIFs). The evidence for 1999 indicates that communities are most likely to offer one or more of these business development incentives if their residents have low incomes, if they are located close to state borders, and if their states have troubled political cultures. Ten percent greater median household income is associated with a 3.2 percent lower probability of offering incentives; ten percent greater distance from a state border is associated with a 1.0 percent lower probability of offering incentives; and a 10 percent higher rate at which government officials are convicted of federal corruption crimes is associated with a 1.2 percent greater probability of offering business incentives. TIFs are the preferred incentive of communities whose residents have household incomes between $25,000 and $75,000; whereas TIFs are much less commonly offered by communities whose residents have household incomes below $25,000. The need to finance TIFs out of incremental tax revenues may make it infeasible for many of the poorest of communities to use TIFs for local business development.

Financial Crises, Unconventional Monetary Policy Exit Strategies, and Agents' Expectations

By Andrew T. Foerster (RWP 11-04 August 2011; Revised May 2015)
This paper considers a model with financial frictions and studies the role of expectations and unconventional monetary policy response to financial crises. During a financial crisis, the financial sector has reduced ability to provide credit to productive firms, and the central bank may help lessen the magnitude of the downturn by using unconventional monetary policy to inject liquidity into credit markets. The model allows parameters to change according to a Markov process, which gives agents in the economy expectations about the probability of the central bank intervening in response to a crisis, as well as expectations about the central bank's exit strategy post-crisis. Using this Markov regime switching specification, the paper addresses three issues. First, it considers the effects of different exit strategies, and shows that, after a crisis, if the central bank sells off its accumulated assets too quickly, the economy can experience a double-dip recession. Second, it analyzes the effects of expectations of intervention policy on pre-crisis behavior. In particular, if the central bank increases the probability of intervening during crises, this increase leads to a loss of output in pre-crisis times. Finally, the paper considers the welfare implications of guaranteeing intervention during crises, and shows that providing a guarantee can raise or lower welfare depending upon the exit strategy used, and that committing before a crisis can be welfare decreasing but then welfare increasing once a crisis occurs.

Note on the Role of Natural Condition of Control in the Estimation of DSGE Models

By Martin Fukac and Vladimir Havlena (RWP 11-03 August 2011)
This paper is written by authors from technical and economic fields, motivated to find a common language and views on the problem of the optimal use of information in model estimation.  The center of our interest is the natural condition of control -- a common assumption in the Bayesian estimation in technical sciences, which may be violated in economic applications.  In estimating dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models, typically only a subset of endogenous variables are treated as measured even if additional data sets are available.  The natural condition of control dictates the exploitation of all available information, which improves model adaptability and estimates efficiency.  We illustrate our points on a basic RBC model.

Bank Capital Regulation and Secondary Markets for Bank Assets

By Michal Kowalik (RWP 11-02 March 2011; Revised October 2012)
The paper derives optimal capital requirements, when the bank’s quality is private information. The supervisor can inspect the bank and punish the undercapitalized one with recapitalization and downsizing. The cost of bank’s capital and its ability to sell its assets are crucial for the bank’s incentive to reveal its quality truthfully. The paper provides following policy implications. First, sensitivity of capital requirements to the bank’s quality should be low in good times and high in bad times. Second, a leverage ratio should be accompanied by a requirement that the bank selling its assets retains part of them. Third, using results from supervisory inspection on the secondary market for the bank’s assets increases the bank’s incentive to misreport its quality. Fourth, implementation of the sensitive capital requirements cannot rely solely on information revealed on the market for the bank’s assets.

Labor Market Search, the Taylor Principle, and Indeterminacy

By Takushi Kurozumi and Willem Van Zandweghe (RWP 11-01 October  2010)
In a sticky-price model with labor market search and matching frictions, forecast-based interest rate policy almost always induces indeterminacy when it is strictly inflation targeting and satisfies the Taylor principle. Indeterminacy is due to a vacancy channel of monetary policy that makes inflation expectations self-fulfilling. The effect of this channel strengthens as the sluggishness of the adjustment of employment relative to that of consumption increases. When this relative sluggishness is high, the Taylor principle fails to ensure determinacy, regardless of whether the policy is forecast-based or outcome-based, whether it is strictly or flexibly inflation targeting, or contains policy rate smoothing.

The Roles of Price Points and Menu Costs in Price Rigidity

By Edward S. Knotek II (RWP 10-18 December 2010)
Macroeconomic models often generate nominal price rigidity via menu costs. This paper provides empirical evidence that treating menu costs as a structural explanation for sticky prices may be spurious. Using supermarket scanner data, I note two empirical facts: (1) price points, embodied in nine-ending prices, account for more than 60 percent of prices; (2) at the conclusion of sales, post-sale prices return to their pre-sale levels nearly 90 percent of the time. I construct a model that nests roles for menu costs and price points and estimate model variants via simulated method of moments. Excluding the two facts yields a statistically and economically significant role for menu costs in generating price rigidity. Incorporating the two facts yields an incentive to set nine-ending prices two orders of magnitude larger than the menu costs in this model. In this setting, the price point model can match the two stylized facts, but menu costs are effectively irrelevant as a source of price rigidity. The choice of a mechanism for price rigidity matters for aggregate dynamics.

Robustness, Information-Processing Constraints, and the Current Account in Small Open Economies

By Yulei Luo, Jun Nie, and Eric R. Young (RWP10-17 December 2010)
We examine the effects of two types of informational frictions, robustness (RB) and finite information-processing capacity (called rational inattention or RI) on the current account, in an otherwise standard intertemporal current account (ICA) model. We show that the interaction of RB and RI has the potential to improve the model’s predictions on the joint dynamics of the current account and income: (i) the contemporaneous correlation between the current account and income, (ii) the volatility and persistence of the current account in small open emerging and developed economies. In addition, we show that the two informational frictions could also better explain consumption dynamics in small open economies: the impulse responses of consumption to income shocks and the relative volatility of consumption growth to income growth. Calibrated versions using detection probabilities fit the data better along these dimensions than the standard model does.

Robust Control, Informational Frictions, and International Consumption Correlations

By Yulei Luo, Jun Nie, and Eric R. Young (RWP10-16 December 2010; Revised September 2013)
In this paper we examine the effects of two types of information imperfections, robustness (RB) and finite information-processing capacity (called rational inattention or RI), on international consumption correlations in an otherwise standard small open economy model. We show that in the presence of capital mobility in financial markets, RB lowers the international consumption correlations by generating heterogeneous responses of consumption to income shocks across countries facing different macroeconomic uncertainty. However, the calibrated RB model cannot explain the observed consumption correlations quantitatively. We then show that introducing RI is capable of matching the behavior of international consumption quantitatively via two channels: (1) the gradual response to income shocks that increases the correlations and (2) the presence of the common noise shocks that reduce the correlations.

Determinacy under Inflation Targeting Interest Rate Policy in a Sticky Price Model with Investment

By Takushi Kurozumi and Willem Van Zandweghe (RWP10-15 December 2010)
In a sticky price model with investment spending, recent research shows that inflation-forecast targeting interest rate policy makes determinacy of equilibrium essentially impossible. We examine a necessary and sufficient condition for determinacy under interest rate policy that responds to a weighted average of an inflation forecast and current inflation. This condition demonstrates that the average-inflation targeting policy ensures determinacy as long as both the response to average inflation and the relative weight of current inflation are large enough. We also find that interest rate policy which responds solely to past inflation guarantees determinacy when its response satisfies the Taylor principle and is not large. These results still hold even when wages and hours worked are determined by Nash bargaining.

Learning about Monetary Policy Rules when Labor Market Search and Matching Frictions Matter

By Takushi Kurozumi and Willem Van Zandweghe (RWP10-14 December 2010)
This paper examines implications of incorporating labor market search and matching frictions into a sticky price model for determinacy and E-stability of rational expectations equilibrium (REE) under interest rate policy. When labor adjustment takes place solely at the extensive margin, forecast-based policy that meets the Taylor principle is likely to induce indeterminacy and E-instability, regardless of whether it is strictly or flexibly inflation targeting. When labor adjustment takes place at both the extensive and intensive margins, the strictly inflation-forecast targeting policy remains likely to induce indeterminacy, but it generates a unique E-stable fundamental REE as long as the Taylor principle is satisfied. These results suggest that introducing the search and matching frictions alter determinacy properties of the strictly inflation-forecast targeting policy, but not its E-stability properties in the presence of the intensive margin of labor.

Entrepreneurial Risk Choice and Credit Market Equilibria

By Kerstin Gerling, Michal Kowalik and Heiner Schumacher (RWP10-13 July 2010)
We analyze under what condiitons credit markets are efficient in providing loans to entrepreneurs who can start a new project after previous failure. An entrepreneur of uncertain talent chooses the riskiness of her project. If banks cannot perfectly observe the risk of previous projects, two equilibria may coexist: (1) an inefficient equilibrium in which the entrepreneur undertakes a low-risk project and has no access to finance after failure; and (2) a more efficient equilibrium in which the entrepreneur undertakes high-risk projects and gets financed even after an endogenously determined number of failures.

Lender Exposure and Effort in the Syndicated Loan Market

By Nada Mora (RWP10-12 September 2010; Revised February 2013)
This paper tests for agency problems between the lead arranger and syndicate participants in the syndicated loan market. One problem comes from adverse selection, whereby the lead arranger has a private informational advantage over participants. A second problem comes from moral hazard, whereby the lead arranger puts less effort in monitoring when it retains a smaller loan portion. Applying an instrumental variables strategy, I find that borrowers' performance is influenced by the lead's share. Dynamic tests extract active contributions made by the lead, supporting a monitoring interpretation. Loan covenants serve as a mechanism to induce the lead arranger to monitor.

The Creditworthiness of the Poor: A Model of the Grameen Bank

By Michal Kowalik and David Martinez-Miera (RWP10-11 April 2010)
This paper analyzes the role of expected income in entrepreneurial borrowing. We claim that poorer individuals are safer borrowers because they place more value on the relationship with the bank. We study the dynamics of a monopolistic bank granting loans and taking deposits from overlapping generations of entrepreneurs with different levels of expected income. Matching the evidence of the Grameen Bank we show that a bank will focus on individuals with lower expected income, and will not disburse dividends until it reaches all the potential borrowers. We find empirical support for our theoretical results using data from a household survey from Bangladesh. We show that various measures of expected income are positively and signficantly correlated with default probabilities.

Distortionary Fiscal Policy and Monetary Policy Goals

By Klaus Adam and Roberto M. Billi (RWP10-10 March 2010; Revised January 2011)
We study interactions between monetary policy, which sets nominal interest rates, and fiscal policy, which levies distortionary income taxes to finance public goods, in a standard, sticky-price economy with monopolistic competition. Policymakers? inability to commit in advance to future policies gives rise to excessive inflation and excessive public spending, resulting in welfare losses equivalent to several percent of consumption each period. We show how appointing a conservative monetary authority, which dislikes inflation more than society does, can considerably reduce these welfare losses and that optimally the monetary authority is predominantly concerned about inflation. Full conservatism, i.e., exclusive concern about inflation, entirely eliminates the welfare losses from discretionary monetary and fiscal policymaking, provided monetary policy is determined after fiscal policy each period. Full conservatism, however, is severely suboptimal when monetary policy is determined simultaneously with fiscal policy or before fiscal policy each period.

"Unfunded Liabilities" and Uncertain Fiscal Financing

By Troy Davig, Eric M. Leeper and Todd B. Walker (RWP10-09 March 2010)
A rational expectations framework is developed to study the consequences of alternative means to resolve the "unfunded liabilities" problem--unsustainable exponential growth in federal Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid spending with no plan to finance it. Resolution requires specifying a probability distribution for how and when monetary and fiscal policies will change as the economy evolves through the 21st century.  Beliefs based on that distribution determine the existence of and the nature of equilibrium. We consider policies that in expectation combine reaching a fiscal limit, some distorting taxation, modest inflation, and some reneging on the government's promised transfers. In the equilibrium, inflation-targeting monetary policy cannot successfully anchor expected inflation. Expectational effects are always present, but need not have large impacts on inflation and interest rates in the short and medium runs.

Structural Macro-Econometric Modelling in a Policy Environment

By Martin Fukac (RWP10-08 February 2010)
In this paper we review the evolution of macroeconomic modelling in a policy environment that took place over the past sixty years. We identify and characterise four generations of macro models. Particular attention is paid to the fourth generation -- dynamic stochastic general equilibrium models. We discuss some of the problems in how these models are implemented and quantified.

Impulse Response Identification in DSGE Models

By Martin Fukac (RWP10-07 February 2010)
Dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models have become a widely used tool for policymakers. This paper modifies the global identification theory used for structural vectorautoregressions, and applies it to DSGE models. We use this theory to check whether a DSGE model structure allows for unique estimates of structural shocks and their dynamic effects. The potential cost of a lack of identification for policy oriented models along that specific dimension is huge, as the same model can generate a number of contrasting yet theoretically and empirically justifiable recommendations. The problem and methodology are illustrated using a simple New Keynesian business cycle model.

Discretionary Monetary Policy in the Calvo Model

By Willem Van Zandweghe and Alexander L. Wolman  (RWP10-06 February 2010)
We study discretionary equilibrium in the Calvo pricing model for a monetary authority that chooses the money supply. The steady-state inflation rate is above eight percent for a baseline calibration, and it varies non-monotonically with the degree of price stickiness. If the initial condition involves inflation higher than steady state, discretionary policy generates an immediate drop in inflation followed by a gradual increase to the steady state. Unlike the two-period Taylor model, discretionary policy in the Calvo model does not accommodate predetermined prices in a way that inevitably leads to multiple private-sector equilibria.

The Taylor Rule and the Practice of Central Banking

By Pier Francesco Asso, George A. Kahn and Robert Leeson  (RWP10-05 February 2010)
The Taylor rule has revolutionized the way many policymakers at central banks think about monetary policy. It has framed policy actions as a systematic response to incoming information about economic conditions, as opposed to a period-by-period optimization problem. It has emphasized the importance of adjusting policy rates more than one-for-one in response to an increase in inflation. And, various versions of the Taylor rule have been incorporated into macroeconomic models that are used at central banks to understand and forecast the economy.

This paper examines how the Taylor rule is used as an input in monetary policy deliberations and decision-making at central banks. The paper characterizes the policy environment at the time of the development of the Taylor rule and describes how and why the Taylor rule became integrated into policy discussions and, in some cases, the policy framework itself. Speeches by policymakers and transcripts and minutes of policy meetings are examined to explore the practical uses of the Taylor rule by central bankers. While many issues remain unresolved and views still differ about how the Taylor rule can best be applied in practice, the paper shows that the rule has advanced the practice of central banking.

Euler-Equation Estimation for Discrete Choice Models: A Capital Accumulation Application

By Russell Cooper, John Haltiwanger and Jonathan L. Willis  (RWP10-04 January 2010)
This paper studies capital adjustment at the establishment level. Our goal is to characterize capital adjustment costs, which are important for understanding both the dynamics of aggregate investment and the impact of various policies on capital accumulation. Our estimation strategy searches for parameters that minimize ex post errors in an Euler equation. This strategy is quite common in models for which adjustment occurs in each period. Here, we extend that logic to the estimation of parameters of dynamic optimization problems in which non-convexities lead to extended periods of investment inactivity. In doing so, we create a method to take into account censored observations stemming from intermittent investment. This methodology allows us to take the structural model directly to the data, avoiding time-consuming simulation-based methods. To study the effectiveness of this methodology, we first undertake several Monte Carlo exercises using data generated by the structural model. We then estimate capital adjustment costs for U.S. manufacturing establishments in two sectors.

Training or Search? Evidence and an Equilibrium Model

By Jun Nie (RWP10-03 January 2010)
Training programs are a major tool of labor market policies in OECD countries. I use a unique panel data set on the labor market experience of individual German workers between 2000 and 2002 to estimate a dynamic model of search and training, which allows me to quantify the impact of training programs and unemployment benefits on employment, unemployment, output, and the government expenditures.

The model extends Ljungqvist and Sargent (JPE, 1998) by incorporating a training decision and a broader menu of unemployment benefits. Government-sponsored training programs feature a key trade-off with respect to unemployment insurance programs: they offer more generous unemployment benefits but require more time and effort from workers to generate higher skills. As a result, unemployed workers with different human capital and benefits make different decisions about training, search, and job acceptance.

I use the model to quantitatively study the recent reforms implemented in Germany and run more counterfactual experiments. I simulate the transition path under back-to-back unexpected reforms in 2003-2006 and find the dynamics of the model's unemployment rates are close to the data. In a counterfactual experiment in which I model an economy with a German-like training system and a US-like unemployment benefit structure (roughly, benefits are lower), I find that employment and output rise substantially.

Executive Compensation and Business Policy Choices at U.S. Commercial Banks

By Robert DeYoung, Emma Y. Peng and Meng Yan (RWP10-02 January 2010)
This study examines whether and how the terms of CEO compensation contracts at large commercial banks between 1994 and 2006 influenced, or were influenced by, the risky business policy decisions made by these firms. We find strong evidence that bank CEOs responded to contractual risk-taking incentives by taking more risk; bank boards altered CEO compensation to encourage executives to exploit new growth opportunities; and bank boards set CEO incentives in a manner designed to moderate excessive risk-taking. These relationships are strongest during the second half of our sample, after deregulation and technological change had expanded banks' capacities for risk-taking.

Inflation Targeting and Private Sector Forecasts

By Stephen G. Cecchetti and Craig S. Hakkio (RWP10-01 January 2010)
Transparency is one of the biggest innovations in central bank policy of the past quarter century. Modern central bankers believe that they should be as clear about their objectives and actions as possible. However, is greater transparency always beneficial? Recent work suggests that when private agents have diverse sources of information, public information can cause them to overreact to the signals from the central bank, leading the economy to be too sensitive to common forecast errors. Greater transparency could be destabilizing. While this theoretical result has clear intuitive appeal, it turns on a combination of assumptions and conditions, so it remains to be established that it is of empirical relevance.

In this paper we study the degree to which increased information about monetary policy might lead to individuals coordinating their forecasts. Specifically, we estimate a series of simple models to measure the impact of inflation targeting on the dispersion of private sector forecasts of inflation. Using a panel data set that includes 15 countries over 20 years we find no convincing evidence that adopting an inflation targeting regime leads to a reduction in the dispersion of private sector forecasts of inflation. While for some specifications adoption of inflation target does seem to reduce the standard deviation of inflation forecasts, the impact is rarely precise and always small.