We study the reaction of voters to shifts in local economic conditions. Using the departure from the gold standard of US trading partners in 1931 and the US in 1933, we exploit heterogeneity in export destinations, creating local differences in expenditure-switching in US counties by isolating the aggregate effects of the monetary shocks using time fixed effects. We find significant changes in local voting behavior in response to both shocks, one originating abroad, and another domestically. The response to both shocks have similar magnitude. We argue that voters punished and rewarded incumbents regardless of the shocks’ origin, implying strong feedback from economic conditions to electoral outcomes.
We study the differential regional effects of monetary policy exploiting geographical heterogeneity in income across cities in the United States. We find that prices and employment in poorer cities react more to monetary policy shocks. The results for prices hold for a wide range of narrow consumer expenditure categories. The results are consistent with New Keynesian models that allow for a differential share of hand-to-mouth consumers across regions, but not with models in which regions have different slopes of the Phillips curve. We show that an increase in heterogeneity across cities amplifies the effect of monetary policy on prices and employment.