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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