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Working Papers

Working Papers

  • WP 21-19 | Average Inflation Targeting: Time Inconsistency And Intentional Ambiguity

    Chengcheng Jia Jing Cynthia Wu


    We study the implications of the Fed's new policy framework of average inflation targeting (AIT) and its ambiguous communication. We show that AIT improves the trade-off between inflation and real activity by tilting the Phillips curve in a favorable way. To fully utilize this feature and maximize social welfare, the central bank has the incentive to deviate from AIT and implement inflation targeting ex post. Next, we rationalize the central bank's ambiguous communication about the horizon over which it averages inflation. Ambiguous communication, together with uncertainty about economic fundamentals, helps the central bank to gain credibility and improve welfare in the long run, in spite of the time-inconsistent nature of AIT.   Read More

  • WP 21-18 | IT and Urban Polarization

    Jan Eeckhout Christoph Hedtrich Roberto Pinheiro


    We show that differential IT investment across cities has been a key driver of job and wage polarization since the 1980s. Using a novel data set, we establish two stylized facts: IT investment is highest in firms in large and expensive cities, and the decline in routine cognitive occupations is most prevalent in large and expensive cities. To explain these facts, we propose a model mechanism where the substitution of routine workers by IT leads to higher IT adoption in large cities due to a higher cost of living and higher wages. We estimate the spatial equilibrium model to trace out the effects of IT on the labor market between 1990 and 2015. We find that the fall in IT prices explains 50 percent of the rising wage gap between routine and non-routine cognitive jobs. The decline in IT prices also accounts for 28 percent of the shift in employment away from routine cognitive towards non-routine cognitive jobs. Moreover, our estimates show that the impact of IT is uneven across space. Expensive locations have seen a stronger displacement of routine cognitive jobs and a larger widening of the wage gap between routine and non-routine cognitive jobs.   Read More

  • WP 21-17 | The Real Effects of Monetary Shocks: Evidence from Micro Pricing Moments

    Gee Hee Hong Matthew Klepacz Ernesto Pasten Raphael Schoenle


    This paper evaluates the informativeness of eight micro pricing moments for monetary non-neutrality. Frequency of price changes is the only robustly informative moment. The ratio of kurtosis over frequency is significant only because of frequency, and insignificant when non-pricing moments are included. Non-pricing moments are additionally informative about monetary non-neutrality, indicating potential omitted variable bias and the inability of pricing moments to serve as sufficient statistics. In contrast to existing theoretical work, this ratio has an ambiguous relationship with monetary non-neutrality in a quantitative menu cost model. We show which modeling ingredients explain this discrepancy, providing guidance on modeling choices.   Read More

  • WP 19-27R | Job Displacement and Job Mobility: The Role of Joblessness

    Bruce Fallick John Haltiwanger Erika McEntarfer Matthew Staiger

    Original Paper: WP 19-27


    Who is harmed by and who benefits from worker reallocation? We investigate the earnings consequences of changing jobs and find a wide dispersion in outcomes. This dispersion is driven not by whether the worker was displaced, but by the duration of joblessness between job spells. Job movers who experience joblessness suffer a persistent reduction in earnings and tend to move to lower-paying firms, suggesting that job ladder models offer a useful lens through which to understand the negative consequences of job separations.   Read More

  • WP 21-16 | Welfare Implications of Asset Pricing Facts: Should Central Banks Fill Gaps or Remove Volatility?

    Pierlauro Lopez


    More than 20 years of financial market data suggest a term structure of the welfare cost of economic uncertainty that is downward-sloping on average, especially during downturns. This evidence offers guidance in selecting a model to study the benefits of macroeconomic stabilization from a structural perspective. The addition of nonlinear external habit formation to a textbook monetary model can rationalize the evidence. The model is observationally equivalent in its quantity implications to a standard New Keynesian model with CRRA utility, but the optimal policy prescription is overturned. In the model the central bank should prioritize removing consumption volatility (a targeting of risk premia) over filling the gap between consumption and its flexible-price counterpart (inflation targeting).   Read More

  • WP 21-02R | Addressing COVID-19 Outliers in BVARs with Stochastic Volatility

    Andrea Carriero Todd E. Clark Massimiliano Marcellino Elmar Mertens

    Original Paper: WP 21-02


    The COVID-19 pandemic has led to enormous movements in economic data that strongly affect parameters and forecasts obtained from standard VARs. One way to address these issues is to model extreme observations as random shifts in the stochastic volatility (SV) of VAR residuals. Specifically, we propose VAR models with outlier-augmented SV that combine transitory and persistent changes in volatility. The resulting density forecasts for the COVID-19 period are much less sensitive to outliers in the data than standard VARs. Evaluating forecast performance over the last few decades, we find that outlier-augmented SV schemes do at least as well as a conventional SV model. Predictive Bayes factors indicate that our outlier-augmented SV model provides the best data fit for the period since the pandemic’s outbreak, as well as for earlier subsamples of relatively high volatility.   Read More

  • WP 21-15 | Optimal Epidemic Control in Equilibrium with Imperfect Testing and Enforcement

    Tom Phelan Alexis Akira Toda


    We analyze equilibrium behavior and optimal policy within a Susceptible-Infected-Recovered epidemic model augmented with potentially undiagnosed agents who infer their health status and a social planner with imperfect enforcement of social distancing. We define and prove the existence of a perfect Bayesian Markov competitive equilibrium and contrast it with the efficient allocation subject to the same informational constraints. We identify two externalities, static (individual actions affect current risk of infection) and dynamic (individual actions affect future disease prevalence), and study how they are affected by limitations on testing and enforcement. We prove that a planner with imperfect enforcement will always wish to curtail activity, but that its incentives vanish as testing becomes perfect. When a vaccine arrives far into the future, the planner with perfect enforcement may encourage activity before herd immunity. We find that lockdown policies have modest welfare gains, whereas quarantine policies are effective even with imperfect testing.   Read More

  • WP 21-14 | The Welfare Costs of Business Cycles Unveiled: Measuring the Extent of Stabilization Policies

    Fernando Barros Jr. Fábio Gomes André Victor Luduvice


    How can we measure the welfare benefit of ongoing stabilization? We develop a methodology to calculate the welfare cost of business cycles taking into account that observed consumption is partially smoothed. We propose a decomposition that disentangles consumption in a mix of laissez-faire (absent policies) and riskless components. With a novel identification strategy, we estimate the span of stabilization power. Our results show that the welfare cost of total fluctuations is 5.81 percent of lifetime consumption, in which 80 percent is smoothed by the status quo, yielding a residual 1.05 percent to be tackled by policy.   Read More

  • WP 21-13 | Uncovering Retail Trading in Bitcoin: The Impact of COVID-19 Stimulus Checks

    Anantha Divakaruni Peter Zimmerman


    In April 2020, the US government sent economic impact payments (EIPs) directly to households, as part of its measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic. We characterize these stimulus checks as a wealth shock for households and examine their effect on retail trading in Bitcoin. We find a significant increase in Bitcoin buy trades for the modal EIP amount of $1,200. The rise in Bitcoin trading is highest among individuals without families and at exchanges catering to nonprofessional investors. We estimate that the EIP program has a significant but modest effect on the US dollar–Bitcoin trading pair, increasing trade volume by about 3.8 percent. Trades associated with the EIPs result in a slight rise in the price of Bitcoin of 7 basis points. Nonetheless, the increase in trading is small compared to the size of the stimulus check program, representing only 0.02 percent of all EIP dollars. We repeat our analysis for other countries with similar stimulus programs and find an increase in Bitcoin buy trades in these currencies. Our findings highlight how wealth shocks affect retail trading.   Read More

  • WP 20-01R | Making Friends Meet: Network Formation with Introductions

    Jan-Peter Siedlarek

    Original Paper: WP 20-01


    This paper proposes a parsimonious model of network formation with introductions in the presence of intermediation rents. Introductions allow two nodes to form a new connection on favorable terms with the help of a common neighbor. The decision to form links via introductions is subject to a trade-off between the gains from having a direct connection at lower cost and the potential losses for the introducer from lower intermediation rents. When nodes take advantage of introductions, stable networks tend to exhibit a minimum of clustering. At the same time, intermediary nodes have incentives to protect their position, and stable networks can exhibit bridges across otherwise unconnected parts of the network earning intermediation rents.   Read More