The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City's Research staff produces a series of working papers presenting results of the department's economic research. These technical papers cover a wide range of economic research topics.

2011

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.