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2016 Working Papers

  • WP 16-37 | Predictive Modeling of Surveyed Property Conditions and Vacancy

    Hal Martin Isaac Oduro Francisca Richter April Hirsh Urban Stephan D. Whitaker


    Using the results of a comprehensive in-person survey of properties in Cleveland, Ohio, we fit predictive models of vacancy and property conditions. We draw predictor variables from administrative data that is available in most jurisdictions such as deed recordings, tax assessor's property characteristics, and foreclosure filings. Using logistic regression and machine learning methods, we are able to make reasonably accurate out-of-sample predictions. Our findings indicate that housing professionals could use administrative data and predictive models to identify distressed properties between surveys or among non-surveyed properties in an area subject to a random sample survey. Read More

  • WP 16-36 | Affirmative Action and Racial Segregation

    Peter L. Hinrichs


    A number of states have recently prohibited the use of affirmative action in admissions to public universities statewide. A growing body of research suggests that these affirmative action bans reduce minority enrollment at selective colleges while leaving overall minority college enrollment rates unchanged. The effect of these bans on racial segregation across colleges has not yet been estimated directly and is theoretically ambiguous due to a U-shaped relationship between minority enrollment and college selectivity. This paper uses variation in the timing of affirmative action bans across states to estimate their effects on racial segregation, as measured by exposure and dissimilarity indexes. The results suggest that affirmative action bans have in some cases increased segregation across colleges but in others cases may have actually reduced it. In particular, early affirmative action bans in states with highly selective public universities appear to be associated with more segregation, whereas other affirmative action bans appear to be associated with less segregation. Read More

  • WP 16-35 | Goods-Market Frictions and International Trade

    Pawel Krolikowski Andrew McCallum


    We present a tractable framework that embeds goods-market frictions in a general equilibrium dynamic model with heterogeneous exporters and identical importers. These frictions arise because it takes time and expense for exporters and importers to meet. We show that search frictions lead to an endogenous fraction of unmatched exporters, alter the gains from trade, endogenize entry costs, and imply that the competitive equilibrium does not generally result in the socially optimal number of searching firms. Finally, ignoring search frictions results in biased estimates of the effect of tariffs on trade flows. Read More

  • WP 16-34 | Mobility

    Daniel R. Carroll Eric Young


    This paper studies short-run wealth mobility in a heterogeneous agents, incomplete-markets model. Wealth mobility has a "hump-shaped" relationship with the persistence of the stochastic process governing labor income: low when shocks are close to i.i.d. or close to a random walk, and higher in between. The standard incomplete markets framework features less wealth mobility than found in the PSID wealth supplements. We include features commonly used in the literature to capture wealth inequality and find that they do little to improve the model's performance for wealth mobility. Finally, we introduce state-contingent assets, which allow households to partially span the space of labor productivity. Moving toward a more "complete" market lowers wealth mobility unless the labor income process is very persistent. Read More

  • WP 16-33 | The Dotcom Bubble and Underpricing: Conjectures and Evidence

    Antonio Gledson de Carvalho Roberto Pinheiro Joelson Oliveira Sampaio


    We provide conjectures for what caused the price spiral and the high underpricing of the dotcom bubble of 1999-2000. We raise two conjectures for the price spiral. First, given the uncertainty about the growth opportunities generated by the new technologies and their spillover effects across technology industries, investors saw the inflow of a large number of high-growth firms as a sign of high growth rates for the market as a whole. Second, investors interpreted the wave of highly underpriced IPOs as an opportunity to obtain gains by investing in newly public companies. The underpricing resulted from the emergence a large cohort of firms racing for market leadership. Fundamentals pricing at the IPO was part of their strategy. We provide evidence for our conjectures. We show that returns on NASDAQ composite index are explained by the flow of high-growth (or highly underpriced) IPOs; the high underpricing can be fully explained by firms' characteristics and strategic goals. We also show that, contrary to alternatives explanations, underpricing was not associated with top underwriting, there was no deterioration of issuers’ quality, and top underwriters and analysts became more selective. Read More

  • Fiscal Dominance and US Monetary: 1940–1975

    Owen F. Humpage

    This paper investigates the frictions that existed between the Federal Reserve's monetary policies and the US Treasury's debt-management operations from the onset of the Second World War through the end of the Federal Reserve's even-keel actions in mid-1975. Read More

  • WP 16-31 | Earthquakes and House Prices: Evidence from Oklahoma

    Ron Cheung Daniel Wetherell Stephan D. Whitaker


    This paper examines the impact of earthquakes on residential property values using sales data from Oklahoma from 2006 to 2014. Before 2010, Oklahoma had only a couple of earthquakes per year that were strong enough to be felt by residents. Since 2010, seismic activity has increased, bring potentially damaging quakes several times each year and perceptible quakes every few days. Using hedonic models, we estimate that prices decline by 3 to 4 percent after a home has experienced a moderate earthquake measuring 4 or 5 on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale. Prices can decline up to 9.8 percent after a potentially damaging earthquake with intensity above 6. The correlations between measures of low intensity (MMI 3) quakes and prices are smaller and vary between specifications. Our findings are consistent with the experience of an earthquake revealing a new disamenity and risk which is then capitalized into house values. Read More

  • Panel Data Estimates of Age-Rent Profiles for Rental Housing

    Randal J. Verbrugge Joshua Gallin

    This paper provides estimates of the net depreciation rate for rental housing using a unique confidential data set from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that covers over 30,000 rental units from 1998 to 2009. Our data and econometric approach allow us to add to the literature in three main ways. Read More

  • WP 16-29 | A New Perspective on the Finance-Development Nexus

    Pedro S. Amaral Dean Corbae Erwan Quintin

    Revisions: WP 16-29R


    The existing literature on financial development focuses mostly on the causal impact of the quantity of financial intermediation on economic development. This paper, instead, focuses on the role of the financial sector in creating securities that cater to the needs of heterogeneous investors. To that end, we describe a dynamic extension of Allen and Gale (1989)'s optimal security design model in which producers can tranche the stochastic cash flows they generate at a cost. Lower tranching costs in that environment lead to capital deepening and raise aggregate output. The implications of lower tranching costs for TFP, on the other hand, are fundamentally ambiguous. In other words, our model predicts that increased financial sophistication/complexity—a securitization boom, e.g.—can have adverse consequences on aggregate productivity as it is conventionally measured. Read More

  • WP 16-28 | Undiversifying during Crises: Is It a Good Idea?

    Margherita Giuzio Sandra Paterlini


    High levels of correlation among financial assets, as well as extreme losses, are typical during crisis periods. In such situations, quantitative asset allocation models are often not robust enough to deal with estimation errors and lead to identifying underperforming investment strategies. It is an open question if in such periods, it would be better to hold diversified portfolios, such as the equally weighted, rather than investing in few selected assets. In this paper, we show that alternative strategies developed by constraining the level of diversification of the portfolio, by means of a regularization constraint on the sparse lq-norm of portfolio weights, can better deal with the trade-off between risk diversification and estimation error. In fact, the proposed approach automatically selects portfolios with a small number of active weights and low risk exposure. Insights on the diversification relationships between the classical minimum variance portfolio, risk budgeting strategies, and diversification-constrained portfolios are also provided. Finally, we show empirically that the diversification-constrained-based lq-strategy outperforms state-of-art methods during crises, with remarkable out-of-sample performance in risk minimization. Read More

  • WP 16-27 | Spatial Dependence and Data-Driven Networks of International Banks

    Ben R. Craig Martin Saldías


    This paper computes data-driven correlation networks based on the stock returns of international banks and conducts a comprehensive analysis of their topological properties. We first apply spatial-dependence methods to filter the effects of strong common factors and a thresholding procedure to select the significant bilateral correlations. The analysis of topological characteristics of the resulting correlation networks shows many common features that have been documented in the recent literature but were obtained with private information on banks' exposures. Our analysis validates these market-based adjacency matrices as inputs for the spatio-temporal analysis of shocks in the banking system. Read More

  • WP 16-26 | Is the Light Rail “Tide” Lifting Property Values? Evidence from Hampton Roads, Virginia

    Gary Wagner Timothy Komarek Julia Martin

    Revisions: WP 16-26R


    In this paper we examine the effect of light rail transit on the residential real estate market in Hampton Roads, Virginia. The Norfolk Tide light rail began operations in August 2011 and has experienced disappointing levels of ridership over its first four years of operations. We estimate the effect of the Tide using a difference-in-differences model and consider several outcome variables for the residential housing market, including sales price, sales-list price spread and the time-on-market. Our identification strategy exploits a proposed rail line in neighboring Virginia Beach, Virginia, that was rejected by a referendum in 1999. Overall, the results show negative consequences from the constructed light rail line. Properties within 1,500 meters experienced a decline in sales price of nearly 8 percent, while the sale-list price spread declined by approximately 2 percent. Our results highlight the potential negative effects of light rail, when potential accessibility benefits do not outweigh apparent local costs. Read More

  • WP 16-25 | The Unintended Consequences of Employer Credit Check Bans on Labor and Credit Markets

    Kristle Cortés Andrew Glover Murat Tasci

    Revisions: WP 16-25R


    Lenders have traditionally used credit reports to measure a borrower’s default risk, but credit agencies also market reports to employers for use in hiring. Since the onset of the Great Recession, eleven state legislatures have restricted the use of credit reports in the labor market. We document that county-level unemployment rose faster in states that restricted employer credit checks and counties with more subprime citizens experienced larger increases in the unemployment rate than average. Using data from individual credit reports, we find that access to credit declines and delinquencies increase significantly after the state-level policy changes, especially for subprime borrowers. Read More

  • WP 16-24 | Venture Capital and Underpricing: Capacity Constraints and Early Sales

    Roberto Pinheiro


    I present a model of the venture capital (VC) and public markets in which VCs suffer from capacity constraints, due to the shortage of skilled VC managers. Consequently, VC firms can only handle a limited number of new projects at once, having to take ongoing projects public in order to take advantage of new opportunities. This framework is able to match key features presented by the VC and initial public offer (IPO) empirical literatures: (1) VC-backed firms are younger, smaller, and less profitable at the IPO than their non-VC backed counterparts; (2) VC-backed IPOs are more underpriced than non-VC backed ones; (3) There is a positive relationship between underpricing and VC fundraising; (4) Small and young VC firms usually take portfolio firms public earlier than their large and mature counterparts; and (5) In hot IPO markets, VCs are more likely to take public both very young and small firms as well as mature and large firms, compared to cold markets. Differently, non-VC backed firms are usually smaller and younger in hot markets than in cold ones. Read More

  • WP 16-23 | Partially Disaggregated Household-level Debt Service Ratios: Construction and Validation

    Joel Elvery Mark E. Schweitzer


    Currently published data series on the United States household debt service ratio are constructed from aggregate household debt data provided by lenders and estimates of the average interest rate and loan terms of a range of credit products. The approach used to calculate those debt service ratios could be prone to missing changes in loan terms. Better measurement of this important indicator of financial health can help policymakers anticipate and react to crises in household finance. We develop and estimate debt service ratio measures based on individual-level debt payments data obtained from credit bureau data and published estimates of disposable personal income. Our results suggest that aggregate debt service ratios may have understated the payment requirements of households. To the extent possible with two very distinct data sources we examine the details on the composition of household debt service and identify some areas where required payments appear to have varied substantially from the assumptions used in the Board of Governors' aggregate calculation. We then use our technique to calculate both national and state-level debt ratios and break these debt service ratios into debt categories at the national, state level, and metro level. This approach should allow detailed forecasts of debt service ratios based on anticipated changes to interest rates and incomes, which could serve to evaluate the ability of households to cope with potential economic shocks. The ability to disaggregate these estimates into geographic regions or age groups could help to identify the severity of the effects on more exposed groups. Read More

  • WP 13-03R | The Usefulness of the Median CPI in Bayesian VARs Used for Macroeconomic Forecasting and Policy

    Brent Meyer Saeed Zaman

    Original Paper: WP 13-03


    In this paper we investigate the forecasting performance of the median consumer price index (CPI) in a variety of Bayesian vector autoregressions (BVARs) that are often used for monetary policy. Until now, the use of trimmed-mean price statistics in forecasting inflation has often been relegated to simple univariate or "Phillips-curve" approaches, thus limiting their usefulness in applications that require consistent forecasts of multiple macro variables. We find that inclusion of an extreme trimmed-mean measure—the median CPI—improves the forecasts of both core and headline inflation (CPI and PCE) across our set of monthly and quarterly BVARs. While the inflation forecasting improvements are perhaps not surprising given the current literature on core inflation statistics, we also find that inclusion of the median CPI improves the forecasting accuracy of the central bank's primary instrument for monetary policy—the federal funds rate. We conclude with a few illustrative exercises that highlight the usefulness of using the median CPI. Read More

  • WP 16-22 | Measuring Uncertainty and Its Impact on the Economy

    Andrea Carriero Todd E. Clark Massimiliano Marcellino

    Revisions: WP 16-22R


    We propose a new framework for measuring uncertainty and its effects on the economy, based on a large VAR model with errors whose stochastic volatility is driven by two common unobservable factors, representing aggregate macroeconomic and financial uncertainty. The uncertainty measures can also influence the levels of the variables so that, contrary to most existing measures, ours reflect changes in both the conditional mean and volatility of the variables, and their impact on the economy can be assessed within the same framework. Moreover, identification of the uncertainty shocks is simplified with respect to standard VAR-based analysis, in line with the FAVAR approach and with heteroskedasticity-based identification. Finally, the model, which is also applicable in other contexts, is estimated with a new Bayesian algorithm, which is computationally efficient and allows for jointly modeling many variables, while previous VAR models with stochastic volatility could only handle a handful of variables. Empirically, we apply the method to estimate uncertainty and its effects using US data, finding that there is indeed substantial commonality in uncertainty, sizable effects of uncertainty on key macroeconomic and financial variables with responses in line with economic theory. Read More

  • WP 15-19R | Forecasting Inflation: Phillips Curve Effects on Services Price Measures

    Ellis W. Tallman Saeed Zaman

    Original Paper: WP 15-19


    We estimate an empirical model of inflation that exploits a Phillips curve relationship between a measure of unemployment and a subaggregate measure of inflation (services). Our results indicate marked improvements in point and density forecasting accuracy statistics for models that exploit relationships between services inflation and the unemployment rate. Read More

  • WP 16-21 | The Ins and Outs of Self-Employment: An Estimate of Business Cycle and Trend Effects

    Mark E. Schweitzer Scott Shane


    We examine quarterly microlevel data on labor market transitions taken from the Current Population Survey from 1990 to 2014 to estimate how the business cycle affects transitions into and out of self-employment from other labor market states. We control for individual demographics and occupational influences in our analysis to better pinpoint the effect of demand growth on these transitions. We find that changes in demand conditions substantially influence the marginal rate of transition into and out of self-employment from other labor market states, after taking into account demographic and industrial differences. A contraction in demand has a large effect on self-employment because it alters the balance between self-employment entry and exit. Falling demand leads to an increase in exit from entrepreneurship, but has countervailing effects on entry. While a decrease in demand leads to a decrease in the opportunity cost of entry into entrepreneurship by increasing the rate of unemployment, the entry into entrepreneurship is higher from employment than from unemployment or from out of the labor market. Finally, we find that the effect of changes in demand on self-employment differ for incorporated and unincorporated self-employment. Read More

  • WP 16-08R | Where the Wild Things Are: Measuring Systemic Risk through Investor Sentiment

    O. Emre Ergungor

    Original Paper: WP 16-08


    In this paper, I develop a systemic risk measure derived from investor sentiment that has predictive power over future economic activity and market returns. Unlike existing measures, it is not focused on flagging investors' heightened awareness of risk at the end of a boom episode but rather on capturing shifts in their trading behavior at the beginning of the episode. The method allows investors and regulators to observe industries in which risks could be building and provides regulators some lead time in deploying their macroprudential tools. Read More

  • WP 16-20 | Fiscal Stimulus and Consumer Debt

    Yuliya Demyanyk Elena Loutskina Daniel Murphy

    Revisions: WP 16-20R


    In the aftermath of consumer debt-induced recession, policymakers have questioned whether fiscal stimulus is effective during the periods of high consumer indebtedness. This study empirically investigates this question. Using detailed data on Department of Defense spending for the 2006-2009 period, we document that the open-economy relative fiscal multiplier is higher in geographies with higher consumer indebtedness. The results suggest that fiscal policy can mitigate the adverse effect of consumer (over)leverage on real economic output during a recession. We then exploit detailed microdata to evaluate aggregate demand and aggregate supply-side economic mechanisms potentially underlying this result. Read More

  • WP 16-19 | Proxy SVARs: Asymptotic Theory, Bootstrap Inference, and the Effects of Income Tax Changes in the United States

    Carsten Jentsch Kurt G. Lunsford


    Proxy structural vector autoregressions (SVARs) identify structural shocks in vector autoregressions (VARs) with external proxy variables that are correlated with the structural shocks of interest but uncorrelated with other structural shocks. We provide asymptotic theory for proxy SVARs when the VAR innovations and proxy variables are jointly&nbsp;<em>&alpha;</em>-mixing. We also prove the asymptotic validity of a residual-based moving block bootstrap (MBB) for inference on statistics that depend jointly on estimators for the VAR coefficients and for covariances of the VAR innovations and proxy variables. These statistics include structural impulse response functions (IRFs). Conversely, wild bootstraps are invalid, even when innovations and proxy variables are either independent and identically distributed or martingale difference sequences, and simulations show that their coverage rates for IRFs can be badly mis-sized. Using the MBB to re-estimate confidence intervals for the IRFs in Mertens and Ravn (2013), we show that inferences cannot be made about the effects of tax changes on output, labor, or investment. Read More

  • WP 16-18 | Peer Pressure: Social Interaction and the Disposition Effect

    Rawley Z. Heimer


    Social interaction contributes to some traders' disposition effect. New data from an investment-specific social network linked to individual-level trading records builds evidence of this connection. To credibly estimate causal peer effects, I exploit the staggered entry of retail brokerages into partnerships with the social trading web platform and compare trader activity before and after exposure to these new social conditions. Access to the social network nearly doubles the magnitude of a trader's disposition effect. Traders connected in the network develop correlated levels of the disposition effect, a finding that can be replicated using workhorse data from a large discount brokerage. Read More

  • WP 16-17 | Large Vector Autoregressions with Stochastic Volatility and Flexible Priors

    Andrea Carriero Todd E. Clark Massimiliano Marcellino


    Recent research has shown that a reliable vector autoregressive model (VAR) for forecasting and structural analysis of macroeconomic data requires a large set of variables and modeling time variation in their volatilities. Yet, there are no papers jointly allowing for stochastic volatilities and large datasets, due to computational complexity. Moreover, homoskedastic VAR models for large datasets so far restrict substantially the allowed prior distributions on the parameters. In this paper we propose a new Bayesian estimation procedure for (possibly very large) VARs featuring time varying volatilities and general priors. This is important both for reduced form applications, such as forecasting, and for more structural applications, such as computing response functions to structural shocks. We show that indeed empirically the new estimation procedure performs very well for both tasks. Read More

  • WP 16-16 | How Do Lead Banks Use Their Private Information about Loan Quality in the Syndicated Loan Market?

    Lakshmi Balasubramanyan Allen Berger Christa H. S. Bouwman Matthew Koepke

    Revisions: WP 16-16R


    Little is known about how lead banks in the syndicated loan market use their private information about loan quality. We formulate and test two hypotheses, the Signaling Hypothesis and Sophisticated Syndicate Hypothesis. To measure private information, we use Shared National Credit (SNC) internal loan ratings, which we make comparable across banks using concordance tables. We find that favorable private information is associated with higher loan retention by lead banks for term loans, consistent with empirical domination of the Signaling Hypothesis, while neither hypothesis dominates for revolvers. Differences in syndicate structure at least partially explain this disparity. Read More

  • WP 16-15 | Is Bigger Necessarily Better in Community Banking?

    Joseph Hughes Julapa Jagtiani Loretta J. Mester


    We investigate the relative performance of publicly traded community banks (those with assets less than $10 billion) versus larger banks (those with assets between $10 billion and $50 billion). A body of research has shown that community banks have potential advantages in relationship lending compared with large banks, although newer research suggests that these advantages may be shrinking. In addition, the burdens placed on community banks by the regulatory reforms mandated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the need to increase investment in technology, both of which have fixed-cost components, may have disproportionately raised community banks&rsquo; costs. We find that, on average, large banks financially outperform community banks as a group and are more efficient at credit-risk assessment and monitoring. But within the community bank segment, larger community banks outperform smaller community banks. Our findings, taken as a whole, suggest that there are incentives for small banks to grow larger to exploit scale economies and to achieve other scale-related benefits in terms of credit-risk monitoring. In addition, we find that small business lending is an important factor in the better performance of large community banks compared with small community banks. Thus, concern that small business lending would be adversely affected if small community banks find it beneficial to increase their scale is not supported by our results. Read More

  • WP 16-14 | The Impact of Merger Legislation on Bank Mergers

    Elena Carletti Steven Ongena Jan-Peter Siedlarek Giancarlo Spagnolo

    Revisions: WP 16-14R


    We find that stricter merger control legislation increases abnormal announcement returns of targets in bank mergers by 7 percentage points. Analyzing potential explanations for this result, we document an increase in the pre-merger profitability of targets, a decrease in the size of acquirers, and a decreasing share of transactions in which banks are acquired by other banks. Other merger properties, including the size and risk profile of targets, the geographic overlap of merging banks, and the stock market response of rivals appear unaffected. The evidence suggests that the strengthening of merger control leads to more efficient and more competitive transactions. Read More

  • WP 16-13 | Information Production, Misconduct Effort, and the Duration of Corporate Fraud

    Jonathan Black Mattias Nilsson Roberto Pinheiro Maximiliano da Silva


    We develop and test a model linking the duration of financial fraud to information produced by auditors and analysts and efforts by managers to conceal the fraud. Our empirical results suggest fraud termination is more likely in the quarter following the release of audited financial statements, especially when reports contain explanatory language, indicating auditors&rsquo; observable signals reduce fraud duration. Analyst attention increases the likelihood of fraud termination, but the marginal effect beyond the first analyst is negative, possibly due to free riding and herding behavior impairing analysts&rsquo; ability to illuminate misconduct. Finally, evidence suggests managerial concealment significantly increases fraud duration. Read More

  • WP 16-12 | Too-Big-to-Fail before the Fed

    Gary Gorton Ellis W. Tallman


    "Too-big-to-fail" is consistent with policies followed by private bank clearing houses during financial crises in the U.S. National Banking Era prior to the existence of the Federal Reserve System. Private bank clearing houses provided emergency lending to member banks during financial crises. This behavior strongly suggests that "too-big-to-fail" is not the problem causing modern crises. Rather, it is a reasonable response to the threat posed to large banks by the vulnerability of short-term debt to runs. Read More

  • WP 16-11 | Term Premium Variability and Monetary Policy

    Timothy S. Fuerst Ronald Mau


    Two traditional explanations for the mean and variability of the term premium are: (i) time-varying risk premia on long bonds, and (ii) segmented markets between long- and short-term bonds. This paper integrates these two approaches into a medium-scale DSGE model. We consider two sources of business cycle variability: shocks to total factor productivity (TFP), and shocks to the marginal efficiency of investment (MEI). The ability of the risk approach to match the first moment of the term premium depends upon the relative importance of these two shocks. If MEI shocks are an important driver of the business cycle, then long bonds are a hedge against the business cycle so that the average term premium is negative. The opposite is the case for the TFP shocks. But for either source of shocks, the risk approach to the term premium predicts a trivial amount of variability in the term premium. In contrast, the segmented markets model can easily match both moments. The market segmentation reflects a real distortion, so that smoothing the term premium is typically welfare-improving. There are two difficulties with such a policy. First, the mean level of the term premium will not properly reflect the segmentation distortion because of the risk adjustment. Second, if the term premium is measured with error, the welfare gain of a term premium peg is naturally reduced. The paper demonstrates that both of these effects are quantitatively modest so that the welfare advantage to a term premium peg survives. Read More

  • WP 16-10 | Competitors' Stock Price Reaction to Mass Layoff Announcements

    Adam Bordeman Bharadwaj Kannan Roberto Pinheiro


    Using data on layoff announcements by S&P 500 firms, we show that layoff announcements mostly contain industrywide news. Competitors' stock price reactions are positively correlated with the announcer's returns. This contagion effect is stronger for competitors whose values depend on growth opportunities. When layoff announcements induce positive stock returns to announcers, competitors with positive R&D see a 1.15% increase in their returns. Conversely, when announcements induce negative reactions to announcers, competitors with high sales growth see a reduction of 1.09% in returns. Our findings suggest that investors perceive layoffs as a change in growth options rather than a change in the competitive environment. Read More

  • WP 09-11R2 | Re-Examining the Role of Sticky Wages in the U.S. Great Contraction: A Multisectoral Approach

    Pedro S. Amaral James MacGee

    Original Paper: WP 09-11 | Revisions: WP 09-11R


    We quantify the role of contractionary monetary shocks and nominal wage rigidities in the U.S. Great Contraction. In contrast to conventional wisdom, we find that the average economy-wide real wage varied little over 1929–33, although real wages rose significantly in some industries. Using a two-sector model with intermediates and nominal wage rigidities in one sector, we find that contractionary monetary shocks can account for only a quarter of the fall in GDP, and as little as a fifth at the trough. Intermediate linkages play a key role, as the output decline in our benchmark is roughly half as large as in a two-sector model without intermediates. Read More

  • WP 16-09 | Sovereign Default in the US

    O. Emre Ergungor


    In the absence of a judicial mechanism to reduce the debt burden of a sovereign member of our Union, the resolution process can be quick but perhaps too indifferent to the health, safety, and welfare of the affected residents. In this paper, I use evidence from the Arkansas state archives to provide a description of the events surrounding the default of the state in 1933. I examine the evolution of the negotiations, the outcomes, and the role of fiscal policy. Read More

  • WP 14-29R2 | Do Low-Income Rental Housing Programs Complement Each Other? Evidence from Ohio

    Brett Barkley Amy Higgins Francisca Richter

    Original Paper: WP 14-29 | Revisions: WP14-29R


    We characterize rental subsidy use in units developed with construction subsidies and explore whether the subsidy overlap responds to needs unmet by a tenant-based program alone. We present a subsidy allocation model allowing for program complementarity to guide our analysis of multiple subsidy use in Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) units. Findings for Ohio in 2011 suggest that rental assistance in LIHTC exhibits some degree of subsidy complementarity, particularly, when serving very poor households with special housing needs. We also find that very low income voucher holders who face a less affordable market or a potential gain in neighborhood quality are attracted to use their voucher in a LIHTC unit. However, our analysis finds a significant portion of households in LIHTC units that could seemingly be housed in the private rental market, signaling some degree of inefficient allocation of subsidies. Read More

  • WP 16-08 | Where the Wild Things Are: Measuring Systemic Risk through Investor Sentiment

    O. Emre Ergungor

    Revisions: WP 16-08R


    In this paper, I develop a systemic risk measure derived from investor sentiment that has predictive power over future economic activity and market returns. Unlike existing measures, it is not focused on flagging investors' heightened awareness of risk at the end of a boom episode but rather on capturing shifts in their trading behavior at the beginning of the episode. The method allows investors and regulators to observe industries in which risks could be building and provides regulators some lead time in deploying their macroprudential tools. Read More

  • WP 16-07 | Monetary Policy, Residential Investment, and Search Frictions: An Empirical and Theoretical Synthesis

    Kurt G. Lunsford


    Using a factor-augmented vector autoregression (FAVAR), this paper shows that residential investment contributes substantially to GDP following monetary policy shocks. Further, it shows that the number of new housing units built, not changes in the sizes of existing or new housing units, drives residential investment fluctuations. Motivated by these results, this paper develops a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model where houses are built in discrete units and traded through searching and matching. The search frictions transmit shocks to housing construction, making them central to producing fluctuations in residential investment. The interest rate spread between mortgages and risk-free bonds also transmits monetary policy to the housing market. Following monetary shocks, the DSGE model matches the FAVAR&rsquo;s positive co-movement between nondurable consumption and residential construction spending. In addition, the FAVAR shows that the mortgage spread falls following an expansionary monetary shock, providing empirical support for the DSGE model&rsquo;s monetary transmission mechanism. Read More

  • WP 16-06 | Trade, Relative Prices, and the Canadian Great Depression

    Pedro S. Amaral James MacGee


    Canadian GNP per capita fell by roughly a third between 1928 and 1933. Although the decline and the slow recovery of GNP resemble the American Great Depression, trade was more important in Canada, as exports and imports each accounted for roughly a quarter of Canadian GNP in 1928. The fall in the trade share of GNP of roughly 30 percent between 1928 and 1933 was accompanied by a decline of over 20 percent in the relative prices of exports and imports relative to nontraded goods. We develop a three-sector small open economy model, where wages in the nontraded and import competing sectors adjust slowly due to Taylor contracts. We feed the relative prices of imports and exports from the data into the model, and find that the fall in traded goods prices can account for roughly half of the fall in GNP during the Canadian Great Contraction. Read More

  • WP 16-05 | Choosing a Control Group for Displaced Workers

    Pawel Krolikowski


    The vast majority of studies on the earnings of displaced workers use a control group of continuously employed workers to examine the effects of initial displacements. This approach implies long-lived earnings reductions following displacement even if these effects are not persistent, overstating the losses relative to the true average treatment effect. This paper's approach isolates the impact of an average displacement without imposing continuous employment on the control group. In a comparison of the standard and alternative approaches using PSID data, the estimated long-run earnings losses fall dramatically from 25 percent to 5 percent. Model simulations reinforce these empirical findings. Read More

  • WP 16-04 | Differences of Opinions

    Dionissi Aliprantis


    This paper presents a generalization of the DeGroot learning rule in which social learning can lead to polarization, even for connected networks. I first develop a model of biased assimilation in which the utility an agent receives from past decisions depends on current beliefs when uncertainty is slow to resolve. I use this model to motivate key features of an agent's optimization problem subject to scarce private information, which forces the agent to extrapolate using social information. Even when the agent extrapolates under "scientific" assumptions and all individuals in the network process and report their private signals in an unbiased way, the possibility of biased processing or reporting leads agents to process social signals differently depending on the sender. The resulting solution to the agent's problem is a heterogeneous confidence learning rule that is distinct from bounded confidence learning rules in that the agent may actually move her beliefs away from, and not only discard, signals from untrustworthy senders. Read More

  • WP 16-03 | How Did Pre-Fed Banking Panics End?

    Gary Gorton Ellis W. Tallman


    How did pre-Fed banking crises end? How did depositors' beliefs change? During the National Banking Era, 1863-1914, banks responded to the severe panics by suspending convertibility; that is, they refused to exchange cash for their liabilities (checking accounts). At the start of the suspension period, the private clearing houses cut off bank-specific information. Member banks were legally united into a single entity by the issuance of emergency loan certificates, a joint liability. A new market for certified checks opened, pricing the risk of clearing house failure. Certified checks traded at a discount to cash (a currency premium) in a market that opened during the suspension period. Confidence was restored when the currency premium reached zero. Read More

  • WP 16-02 | Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity in the United States during and after the Great Recession

    Bruce Fallick Michael Lettau William Wascher


    Rigidity in wages has long been thought to impede the functioning of labor markets. One recent strand of the research on wage flexibility in the United States and elsewhere has focused on the possibility of downward nominal wage rigidity and what implications such rigidity might have for the macroeconomy at low levels of inflation. The Great Recession of 2008-09, during which the unemployment rate topped 10 percent and price deflation was at times seen as a distinct possibility, along with the subsequent slow recovery and persistently low inflation, has added to the relevance of this line of inquiry. In this paper, we use establishment-level data from a nationally representative establishment-based compensation survey collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to investigate the extent to which downward nominal wage rigidity is present in U.S. labor markets. We use several distinct methods proposed in the literature to test for downward nominal wage rigidity, and to assess whether such rigidity is more severe at low rates of inflation and in the presence of negative economic shocks than in more normal economic times. Like earlier studies, we find evidence of a significant amount of downward nominal wage rigidity in the United States. We find no evidence that the high degree of labor market distress during the Great Recession reduced the amount of downward nominal wage rigidity and some evidence that operative rigidity may have increased during that period. Read More

  • WP 16-01 | Clouded Judgment: The Role of Sentiment in Credit Origination

    Kristle Cortés Ran Duchin Denis Sosyura


    Using daily fluctuations in local sunshine as an instrument for sentiment, we study its effect on day-to-day decisions of lower-level financial officers. Positive sentiment is associated with higher credit approvals, and negative sentiment has the opposite effect of a larger magnitude. These effects are stronger when financial decisions require more discretion, when reviews are less automated, and when capital constraints are less binding. The variation in approval rates affects ex-post financial performance and produces significant real effects. Our analysis of the economic channels suggests that sentiment influences managers&rsquo; risk tolerance and subjective judgment. Read More