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Working Papers

Working Papers

  • WP 22-16 | The Value of Unemployment Insurance: Liquidity vs. Insurance Value


    Victor Hernandez Martinez Kaixin Liu

    Abstract

    This paper argues that the value of unemployment insurance (UI) can be decomposed into a liquidity component and an insurance component. While the liquidity component captures the value of relieving the cost to access liquidity during unemployment, the insurance component captures the value of protecting the worker against a potential permanent future income loss. We develop a novel sufficient statistics method to identify each component that requires only the labor supply responses to changes in the potential duration of UI and severance payment and implement it using Spanish administrative data. We find that the liquidity component represents half of the value of UI, while the insurance component captures the remaining half. However, the relevance of each component is highly heterogeneous across different groups of workers. Poorer and wealthier workers are both similarly liquidity-constrained, but poorer workers place a higher value on UI because the insurance component is significantly more important for them. On the other hand, wealthier workers and workers with more cash-on-hand value additional UI equally, but the wealthier value its liquidity, while those with more liquidity care about its insurance value. Finally, from a welfare perspective, we show that extending the potential duration of Spain’s UI would increase welfare. However, in our counterfactual case where UI is complemented with the provision of liquidity, the optimal potential duration of Spain's UI should be lower than its current level.   Read More

  • WP 21-04R | Applications of Markov Chain Approximation Methods to Optimal Control Problems in Economics


    Tom Phelan Keyvan Eslami

    Original Paper: WP 21-04

    Abstract

    In this paper we explore some benefits of using the finite-state Markov chain approximation (MCA) method of Kushner and Dupuis (2001) to solve continuous-time optimal control problems in economics. We first show that the implicit finite-difference scheme of Achdou et al. (2022) amounts to a limiting form of the MCA method for a certain choice of approximating chains and policy function iteration for the resulting system of equations. We then illustrate that, relative to the implicit finite-difference approach, using variations of modified policy function iteration to solve income fluctuation problems both with and without discrete choices can lead to an increase in the speed of convergence of more than an order of magnitude. Finally, we provide several consistent chain constructions for stationary portfolio problems with correlated state variables, and illustrate the flexibility of the MCA approach by using it to construct and compare two simple solution methods for a general equilibrium model with financial frictions.   Read More

  • WP 22-15 | The Geographic Effects of Monetary Policy


    Mathieu Pedemonte Juan Herreño

    Abstract

    We propose a novel approximation of the risky steady state and construct first-order perturbations around it for a general class of dynamic equilibrium models with time-varying and non-Gaussian risk. We offer analytical formulas and conditions for their local existence and uniqueness. We apply this approximation technique to models featuring Campbell-Cochrane habits, recursive preferences, and time-varying disaster risk, and show how the proposed approximation represents the implications of the model similarly to global solution methods. We show that our approximation of the risky steady state cannot be generically replicated by higher-order perturbations around the deterministic steady state, which cannot account well for the effects of risk in our applications even up to third order. Finally, we argue that our perturbation can be viewed as a generalized version of the heuristic loglinear-lognormal approximations commonly used in the macro-finance literature.   Read More

  • WP 22-14 | Accounting for Risk in a Linearized Solution: How to Approximate the Risky Steady State and Around It


    Pierlauro Lopez David Lopez-Salido Francisco Vazquez-Grande

    Abstract

    We propose a novel approximation of the risky steady state and construct first-order perturbations around it for a general class of dynamic equilibrium models with time-varying and non-Gaussian risk. We offer analytical formulas and conditions for their local existence and uniqueness. We apply this approximation technique to models featuring Campbell-Cochrane habits, recursive preferences, and time-varying disaster risk, and show how the proposed approximation represents the implications of the model similarly to global solution methods. We show that our approximation of the risky steady state cannot be generically replicated by higher-order perturbations around the deterministic steady state, which cannot account well for the effects of risk in our applications even up to third order. Finally, we argue that our perturbation can be viewed as a generalized version of the heuristic loglinear-lognormal approximations commonly used in the macro-finance literature.   Read More

  • WP 22-13 | Surveys of Professionals


    Michael Clements Robert Rich Joseph Tracy

    Abstract

    This chapter provides an overview of surveys of professional forecasters, with a focus on the U.S. Survey of Professional Forecasters and the European Central Bank Survey of Professional Forecasters. A distinguishing feature of these surveys is that they collect point and density forecasts and make the data publicly available. We discuss their structure, issues involved in using the data, and the construction of measures such as disagreement and uncertainty at the aggregate and individual levels. Our review also summarizes the findings of studies exploring issues such as the alignment of point forecasts with measures of central tendency from associated density forecasts, the coverage of density forecasts, the rounding of point and density forecasts, comparisons of forecast accuracy across respondents, and heterogeneity in forecast behavior and the persistence of these differential features. We conclude with some observations for future work.   Read More

  • WP 22-12 | Constructing Density Forecasts from Quantile Regressions: Multimodality in Macro-Financial Dynamics


    James Mitchell Aubrey Poon Dan Zhu

    Abstract

    Quantile regression methods are increasingly used to forecast tail risks and uncertainties in macroeconomic outcomes. This paper reconsiders how to construct predictive densities from quantile regressions. We compare a popular two-step approach that fits a specific parametric density to the quantile forecasts with a nonparametric alternative that lets the 'data speak.' Simulation evidence and an application revisiting GDP growth uncertainties in the US demonstrate the flexibility of the nonparametric approach when constructing density forecasts from both frequentist and Bayesian quantile regressions. They identify its ability to unmask deviations from symmetrical and unimodal densities. The dominant macroeconomic narrative becomes one of the evolution, over the business cycle, of multimodalities rather than asymmetries in the predictive distribution of GDP growth when conditioned on financial conditions.   Read More

  • WP 19-07R | The Informational Effect of Monetary Policy and the Case for Policy Commitment


    Chengcheng Jia

    Original Paper: WP 19-07

    Abstract

    I study how the informational effect of monetary policy changes the optimal conduct of monetary policy. In my model, the private sector extracts information about unobserved shocks from the central bank's interest rate decisions. The central bank optimally changes the informational effect of the interest rate by committing to a state-contingent policy rule, in which case the Phillips curve becomes endogenous to the central bank's optimization problem. In a dynamic model, the optimal policy rule overshoots the natural-rate shock and gradually responds to the cost-push shock, which makes the interest rate change expected output growth but not expected inflation.   Read More

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


    Fernando Barros Jr. Fábio Gomes André Victor D. Luduvice

    Original Paper: WP 21-14

    Abstract

    How can we measure the welfare benefit of ongoing stabilization policies? 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 11 percent of lifetime consumption, of which 82 percent is smoothed by the status quo policies, yielding a residual 1.8 percent of consumption to be tackled by policymakers.   Read More

  • WP 19-30R | Minimum Wage Increases and Vacancies


    Marianna Kudlyak Murat Tasci Didem Tüzemen

    Original Paper: WP 19-30

    Abstract

    Using a unique data set and a novel identification strategy, we estimate the effect of minimum wage increases on job vacancy postings. Utilizing occupation-specific county level vacancy data from the Conference Board’s Help Wanted Online for 2005-2018, we find that state-level minimum wage increases lead to substantial declines in existing and new vacancy postings in occupations with a larger share of workers who earn close to the prevailing minimum wage. We estimate that a 10 percent increase in the state level effective minimum wage reduces vacancies by 2.4 percent in the same quarter, and the cumulative effect is as large as 4.5 percent a year later. The negative effect on vacancies is more pronounced for occupations where workers typically have lower educational attainment (high school or less) and in counties with higher poverty rates. We argue that our focus on vacancies versus on employment has a distinct advantage of highlighting a mechanism through which minimum wage hikes affect labor demand. Our finding of a negative effect on vacancies is not inconsistent with the wide range of findings in the literature about the effect of minimum wage changes on employment, which is driven by changes in both hiring and separation margins.   Read More

  • WP 22-11 | How Do Banks Respond to Capital Regulation? — The Impact of the Basel III Reforms in the United States


    Nicholas Fritsch Jan-Peter Siedlarek

    Abstract

    Understanding banks’ responses to capital regulation is essential for regulators to use this key tool of modern banking regulation effectively. We study how and when US banks responded to changes to the way capital ratios are measured, changes that were introduced as part of the adoption of Basel III. We find that small banks — those below USD 10bn — responded neither before nor after the release of the new rules to the change in measured capital they experienced under the new rules. In contrast, we show that regional banks — those with total assets between USD 10bn and USD 50bn — adjusted their capital ratios to partially compensate for the changes resulting from the new rules: On average, if a bank’s capital ratio when measured under the new rules was lower than under the old rules, then the bank took steps to increase its capital ratio, compared to a bank whose capital ratio did not change with the new rules. This adjustment took place prior to the publication of the specific language applicable to US banks, suggesting that the changes were largely expected by that time. Both groups of banks responded in the periods following the release of the new US rules in relation to their exposure to mortgage servicing rights, suggesting that the severe treatment of this asset class was not expected. The bank responses we estimate take place well before the Basel III rules started to come into force after 2014, emphasizing the importance of policy announcements in shaping bank behavior.   Read More