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  • Author: Davide Debortoli, Ricardo Nunes
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: We analyze how public debt evolves when successive policymakers have different policy goals and cannot make credible commitments about their future policies. We consider several cases to be able to disentangle and quantify the respective effects of imperfect commitment and political disagreement. Absent political turnover, imperfect commitment drives the long-run level of debt to zero. With political disagreement, debt is a sizeable fraction of GDP and increasing in the degree of polarization among parties, no matter the degree of commitment. The frequency of political turnover does not produce quantitatively relevant effects. These results are consistent with much of the existing empirical evidence. Finally, we find that in the presence of political disagreement the welfare gains of building commitment are lower.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David M. Arseneau, Sanjay K. Chugh
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: A growing body of evidence suggests that ongoing relationships between consumers and firms may be important for understanding price dynamics. We investigate whether the existence of such customer relationships has important consequences for the conduct of both long-run and short-run policy. Our central result is that when consumers and firms are engaged in long-term relationships, the optimal rate of price inflation volatility is very low even though all prices are completely flexible. This finding is in contrast to those obtained in first-generation Ramsey models of optimal fiscal and monetary policy, which are based on Walrasian markets. Echoing the basic intuition of models based on sticky prices, unanticipated inflation in our environment causes a type of relative price distortion across markets. Such distortions stem from fundamental trading frictions that give rise to long-lived customer relationships and makes pursuing inflation stability optimal.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Houtan Bastani, Luca Guerrieri
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: A key application of automatic differentiation (AD) is to facilitate numerical optimization problems. Such problems are at the core of many estimation techniques, including maximum likelihood. As one of the first applications of AD in the field of economics, we used Tapenade to construct derivatives for the likelihood function of any linear or linearized general equilibrium model solved under the assumption of rational expectations. We view our main contribution as providing an important check on finite-difference (FD) numerical derivatives. We also construct Monte Carlo experiments to compare maximum-likelihood estimates obtained with and without the aid of automatic derivatives. We find that the convergence rate of our optimization algorithm can increase substantially when we use AD derivatives.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Stephanie E. Curcuru, Tomas Dvorak, Francis E. Warnock
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: Were the U.S. to persistently earn substantially more on its foreign investments ("U.S. claims") than foreigners earn on their U.S. investments ("U.S. liabilities"), the likelihood that the current environment of sizeable global imbalances will evolve in a benign manner increases. However, using a monthly dataset on the foreign equity and bond portfolios of U.S. investors and the U.S. equity and bond portfolios of foreign investors, we find that the returns differential for portfolio securities is near zero, far smaller than previously reported. Examining all U.S. claims and liabilities (portfolio securities as well as direct investment and banking), we find that previous estimates of large differentials are biased upward. The bias owes to computing implied returns from an internally inconsistent dataset of revised data; original data produce a much smaller differential. We also attempt to reconcile our finding of a near zero returns differential with observed patterns of cumulated current account deficits, the net international investment position, and the net income balance. Overall, we find no evidence that the U.S. can count on earning substantially more on its claims than it pays on its liabilities.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Ricardo Correa
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: This paper uses a unique database that includes deal and bank balance sheet information for 220 cross-border acquisitions between 1994 and 2003 to analyze the characteristics and performance effects of international takeovers on target banks. A discrete choice estimation shows that banks are more likely to get acquired in a cross-border deal if they are large, bad performers, in a small country, and when the banking sector is concentrated. Post-acquisition performance for target banks does not improve in the first two years relative to domestically-owned financial institutions. This result is explained by a decrease in the banks' net interest margin in developed countries and an increase in overhead costs in emerging economies.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Author: Joseph W. Gruber, Steven B. Kamin
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: This paper addresses the popular view that differences in financial development explain the pattern of global current account imbalances. One strain of thinking explains the net flow of capital from developing to industrial economies on the basis of the industrial economies' more advanced financial systems and correspondingly more attractive assets. A related view addresses why the United States has attracted the lion's share of capital flows from developing to industrial economies; it stresses the exceptional depth, breadth, and safety of U.S. financial markets.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Enrique G. Mandoza, Vivian Z. Yue
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: Models of business cycles in emerging economies explain the negative correlation between country spreads and output by modeling default risk as an exogenous interest rate on working capital. Models of strategic default explain the cyclical properties of sovereign spreads by assuming an exogenous output cost of default with special features, and they underestimate debt-output ratios by a wide margin. This paper proposes a solution to this default risk-business cycle disconnect based on a model of sovereign default with endogenous output dynamics. The model replicates observed V-shaped output dynamics around default episodes, countercyclical sovereign spreads, and high debt ratios, and it also matches the variability of consumption and the countercyclical fluctuations of net exports. Three features of the model are key for these results: (1) working capital loans pay for imported inputs; (2) imported inputs support more efficient factor allocations than when these inputs are produced internally; and (3) default on the foreign obligations of firms and the government occurs simultaneously.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Author: Ricardo Correa
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: This paper uses data on publicly-traded firms in the U.S. to analyze the effect of interstate bank integration on the financial constraints borrowers face. A firm-level investment equation is estimated in order to test if bank integration reduces the sensitivity of capital expenditures to the level of internal funds. The staggered deregulation of cross-state bank acquisitions that took place in the U.S. between 1978 and 1994 helps estimate the model. Integration decreases financing constraints for bank-dependent firms. The change in firms' access to external finance is explained by an increase in the share of locally headquartered geographically diversified banks.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jane Haltmaier
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: Predicting cycles in economic activity is one of the more challenging but important aspects of economic forecasting. This paper reports the results from estimation of binary probit models that predict the probability of an economy being in a recession using a variety of financial and real activity indicators. The models are estimated for eight countries, both individually and using a panel regression. Although the success of the models varies, they are all able to identify a significant number of recessionary periods correctly.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets
  • Author: Emine Boz, Christian Daude, Ceyhun Bora Durdu
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: The data reveal that emerging markets do not differ from developed countries with regards to the variance of permanent TFP shocks relative to transitory. They do differ, however, in the degree of uncertainty agents face when formulating expectations. Based on these observations, we build an equilibrium business cycle model in which the agents cannot perfectly distinguish between the permanent and transitory components of TFP shocks. When formulating expectations, they assign some probability to TFP shocks being permanent even when they are purely transitory. This is sufficient for the model to produce "permanent-like" effects in response to transitory shocks. The imperfect information model calibrated to Mexico predicts a higher variability of consumption relative to output and a strongly negative correlation between the trade balance and output, without the predominance of trend shocks. The same model assuming perfect information and calibrated to Canada accounts for developed country business cycle regularities. The estimated relative variance of trend shocks in these two models is similar.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Markets
  • Political Geography: Canada, Mexico
  • Author: Erik Hjalmarsson
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes the asymptotic properties of long-horizon estimators under both the null hypothesis and an alternative of predictability. Asymptotically, under the null of no predictability, the long-run estimator is an increasing deterministic function of the short-run estimate and the forecasting horizon. Under the alternative of predictability, the conditional distribution of the long-run estimator, given the short-run estimate, is no longer degenerate and the expected pattern of coefficient estimates across horizons differs from that under the null. Importantly, however, under the alternative, highly endogenous regressors, such as the dividend-price ratio, tend to deviate much less than exogenous regressors, such as the short interest rate, from the pattern expected under the null, making it more difficult to distinguish between the null and the alternative.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Author: David M. Arseneau, Sanjay K. Chugh
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: We show how to implement a competitive search equilibrium in a fully-specified DSGE environment. Competitive search, an equilibrium concept well-understood in labor market theory, offers an alternative to the commonly-used Nash bargaining in search-based macro models. Our simulation-based results show that business cycle fluctuations under competitive search equilibrium are virtually identical to those under Nash bargaining for a broad range of calibrations of Nash bargaining power. We also prove that business cycle fluctuations under competitive search equilibrium are exactly identical to those under Nash bargaining restricted to the popularly-used Hosios condition for search efficiency. This latter result extends the efficiency properties of competitive search equilibrium to a DSGE environment. Our results thus provide a foundation for researchers interested in studying business cycle fluctuations using search-based environments to claim that the sometimes-awkward assumption of bargaining per se does not obscure interpretation of results.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets
  • Author: Francis E. Warnock, John Ammer, Sara B. Holland, David C. Smith
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: This paper investigates the underlying determinants of home bias using a comprehensive sample of U.S. investor holdings of foreign stocks. We document that U.S. cross-listings are economically important, as U.S. ownership in a foreign firm roughly doubles upon cross-listing in the United States. We explore the cross-sectional variation in this "cross-listing effect" and show that increases in U.S. investment are largest in firms from weak accounting backgrounds and in firms that are otherwise informationally opaque, indicating that U.S. investors value the improvements in disclosure associated with cross-listing. We confirm that relative equity valuations rise for cross-listed stocks, and provide evidence suggesting that valuation increases are due in part to increases in U.S. shareholder demand and in part to the fact that the equities become more attractive to non-U.S. shareholders.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Erik Hjalmarsson, Benjamin Chiquoine
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: We show that the general bias reducing technique of jackknifing can be successfully applied to stock return predictability regressions. Compared to standard OLS estimation, the jackknifing procedure delivers virtually unbiased estimates with mean squared errors that generally dominate those of the OLS estimates. The jackknifing method is very general, as well as simple to implement, and can be applied to models with multiple predictors and overlapping observations. Unlike most previous work on inference in predictive regressions, no specific assumptions regarding the data generating process for the predictors are required. A set of Monte Carlo experiments show that the method works well in finite samples and the empirical section finds that out-of-sample forecasts based on the jackknifed estimates tend to outperform those based on the plain OLS estimates. The improved forecast ability also translates into economically relevant welfare gains for an investor who uses the predictive regression, with jackknifed estimates, to time the market.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Author: Erik Hjalmarsson
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: I test for stock return predictability in the largest and most comprehensive data set analyzed so far, using four common forecasting variables: the dividend- and earnings-price ratios, the short interest rate, and the term spread. The data contain over 20,000 monthly observations from 40 international markets, including 24 developed and 16 emerging economies. In addition, I develop new methods for predictive regressions with panel data. Inference based on the standard fixed effects estimator is shown to suffer from severe size distortions in the typical stock return regression, and an alternative robust estimator is proposed. The empirical results indicate that the short interest rate and the term spread are fairly robust predictors of stock returns in developed markets. In contrast, no strong or consistent evidence of predictability is found when considering the earnings- and dividend-price ratios as predictors.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Author: Martin Bodenstein
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: The empirical literature provides a wide range of estimates for trade elasticities at the aggregate level. Furthermore, recent contributions in international macroeconomics suggest that low (implied) values of the trade elasticity of substitution may play an important role in understanding the disconnect between international prices and real variables. However, a standard model of the international business cycle displays multiple locally isolated equilibria if the trade elasticity of substitution is sufficiently low. The main contribution of this paper is to compute and characterize some dynamic properties of these equilibria. While multiple steady states clearly signal equilibrium multiplicity in the dynamic setup, this is not a necessary condition. Solutions based on log-linearization around a deterministic steady state are of limited to no help in computing the true dynamics. However, the log-linear solution can hint at the presence of multiple dynamic equilibria.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Author: Steven B. Kamin, Carol C. Bertaut, Charles P. Thomas
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: This paper addresses three questions about the prospects for the U.S. current account deficit. Is it sustainable in the long term? If not, how long will it take for measures of external debt and debt service to reach levels that could prompt some pullback by global investors? And if and when such levels are breached, how readily would asset prices respond and the current account start to narrow?
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, Government, International Political Economy, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Enrique G. Mendoza, Marco E. Terrones
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: This paper proposes a methodology for measuring credit booms and uses it to identify credit booms in emerging and industrial economies over the past four decades. In addition, we use event study methods to identify the key empirical regularities of credit booms in macroeconomic aggregates and micro-level data. Macro data show a systematic relationship between credit booms and economic expansions, rising asset prices, real appreciations, widening external deficits and managed exchange rates. Micro data show a strong association between credit booms and firm-level measures of leverage, firm values, and external financing, and bank-level indicators of banking fragility. Credit booms in industrial and emerging economies show three major differences: (1) credit booms and the macro and micro fluctuations associated with them are larger in emerging economies, particularly in the nontradables sector; (2) not all credit booms end in financial crises, but most emerging markets crises were associated with credit booms; and (3) credit booms in emerging economies are often preceded by large capital inflows but not by financial reforms or productivity gains.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Author: Ricardo Nunes, Michael Kumhof, Irina Yakadina
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: This paper asks whether an aggressive monetary policy response to inflation is feasible in countries that suffer from fiscal dominance, as long as monetary policy also responds to fiscal variables. We find that if nominal interest rates are allowed to respond to government debt, even aggressive rules that satisfy the Taylor principle can produce unique equilibria. But following such rules results in extremely volatile inflation. This leads to very frequent violations of the zero lower bound on nominal interest rates that make such rules infeasible. Even within the set of feasible rules the optimal response to inflation is highly negative, and more aggressive inflation fighting is inferior from a welfare point of view. The welfare gain from responding to fiscal variables is minimal compared to the gain from eliminating fiscal dominance.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy
  • Author: Luca Guerrieri, Christopher Gust, David López-Salido
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: We develop and estimate an open economy New Keynesian Phillips curve (NKPC) in which variable demand elasticities give rise to changes in desired markups in response to changes in competitive pressure from abroad. A parametric restriction on our specification yields the standard NKPC, in which the elasticity is constant, and there is no role for foreign competition to influence domestic inflation. By comparing the unrestricted and restricted specifications, we provide evidence that foreign competition plays an important role in accounting for the behavior of inflation in the traded goods sector. Our estimates suggest that foreign competition has lowered domestic goods inflation about 1 percentage point over the 2000-2006 period. Our results also provide evidence against demand curves with a constant elasticity in the context of models of monopolistic competition.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States