We develop and calibrate an overlapping generations general equilibrium model of the U.S. economy with heterogeneous consumers who face idiosyncratic earnings and health risk to study the implications of exogenous trends in increasing college attainment, decreasing fertility, and increasing longevity between 2005 and 2100. While all three trends contribute to a higher old age dependency ratio, increasing college attainment has different macroeconomic implications because it increases labor productivity. Decreasing fertility and increasing longevity require the government to increase the average labor tax rate from 32.0 to 44.4 percent. Increasing college attainment lowers the required tax increase by 10.1 percentage points. The required tax increase is higher under general equilibrium than in a small open economy with a constant interest rate because the reduction in the interest rate lowers capital income tax revenues.
This paper develops a New Keynesian model with sovereign default risk (NK-Default). We focus on the interaction between monetary policy, conducted according to an interest rate rule that targets inflation, and external defaultable debt issued by the government. Monetary policy and default risk interact since both affect domestic consumption, production, and inflation. We find that default risk amplifies monetary frictions and generates a tension for monetary policy, which increases the volatility of inflation and nominal rates. These monetary frictions in turn discipline sovereign borrowing, slowing down debt accumulation and lowering sovereign spreads. Our framework replicates the positive comovements of spreads with nominal domestic rates and inflation, a salient feature of emerging markets data, and can rationalize the experience of Brazil during the 2015 downturn, with high inflation, nominal rates, and spreads.
A sudden stop of capital flows into a developing country tends to be followed by a rapid switch from trade deficits to surpluses, a depreciation of the real exchange rate, and decreases in output and total factor productivity. Substantial reallocation takes place from the nontraded sector to the traded sector. We construct a multisector growth model, calibrate it to the Mexican economy, and use it to analyze Mexico's 1994–95 crisis. When subjected to a sudden stop, the model accounts for the trade balance reversal and the real exchange rate depreciation, but it cannot account for the decreases in GDP and TFP. Extending the model to include labor frictions and variable capital utilization, we still find that it cannot quantitatively account for the dynamics of output and productivity without losing the ability to account for the movements of other variables.
Under mild assumptions, the data indicate that fluctuations in nominal interest rate differentials across currencies are primarily fluctuations in time-varying risk. This finding is an immediate implication of the fact that exchange rates are roughly random walks. If most fluctuations in interest differentials are thought to be driven by monetary policy, then the data call for a theory which explains how changes in monetary policy change risk. Here we propose such a theory based on a general equilibrium monetary model with an endogenous source of risk variation—a variable degree of asset market segmentation.
Recent critiques have demonstrated that existing attempts to account for the unemployment volatility puzzle of search models are inconsistent with the procylicality of the opportunity cost of employment, the cyclicality of wages, and the volatility of risk-free rates. We propose a model that is immune to these critiques and solves this puzzle by allowing for preferences that generate time-varying risk over the cycle, and so account for observed asset pricing fluctuations, and for human capital accumulation on the job, consistent with existing estimates of returns to labor market experience. Our model reproduces the observed fluctuations in unemployment because hiring a worker is a risky investment with long-duration surplus flows. Intuitively, since the price of risk in our model sharply increases in recessions as observed in the data, the benefit from creating new matches greatly drops, leading to a large decline in job vacancies and an increase in unemployment of the same magnitude as in the data.
How does wealth taxation differ from capital income taxation? When the return on investment is equal across individuals, a well-known result is that the two tax systems are equivalent. Motivated by recent empirical evidence documenting persistent heterogeneity in rates of return across individuals, we revisit this question. With such heterogeneity, the two tax systems have opposite implications for both efficiency and inequality. Under capital income taxation, entrepreneurs who are more productive, and therefore generate more income, pay higher taxes. Under wealth taxation, entrepreneurs who have similar wealth levels pay similar taxes regardless of their productivity, which expands the tax base, shifts the tax burden toward unproductive entrepreneurs, and raises the savings rate of productive ones. This reallocation increases aggregate productivity and output. In the simulated model parameterized to match the US data, replacing the capital income tax with a wealth tax in a revenue-neutral fashion delivers a significantly higher average lifetime utility to a newborn (about 7.5% in consumption-equivalent terms). Turning to optimal taxation, the optimal wealth tax (OWT) in a stationary equilibrium is positive and yields even larger welfare gains. In contrast, the optimal capital income tax (OCIT) is negative—a subsidy—and large, and it delivers lower welfare gains than the wealth tax. Furthermore, the subsidy policy increases consumption inequality, whereas the wealth tax reduces it slightly. We also consider an extension that models the transition path and find that individuals who are alive at the time of the policy change, on average, would incur large welfare losses if the new policy is OCIT but would experience large welfare gains if the new policy is an OWT. We conclude that wealth taxation has the potential to raise productivity while simultaneously reducing consumption inequality.
We develop a theory of sweat equity—which is the value of business owners’ time and expenses to build customer bases, client lists, and other intangible assets. We discipline the theory using data from U.S. national accounts, business censuses, and brokered sales to estimate a value for sweat equity for the private business sector equal to 1.2 times U.S. GDP, which is roughly the value of fixed assets in use in these businesses. Although latent, the equity values are positively correlated with business incomes, ages, and standard measures of markups based on accounting data, but not with financial assets of owners or standard measures of business total factor productivity (TFP). We use our theory to show that abstracting from sweat activity leads to a significant understatement of the impacts of lowering tax rates on business incomes—on both the extensive and intensive margins. We also document large differences in the effective tax rates and the effects of tax changes for owner and employee labor inputs. Lower tax rates on owners results in increased self-employment and smaller firm sizes, whereas lower rates on employees has the opposite effects. Allowing for financial constraints and superstar firms does not overturn our main findings.
Using simulations from a multicountry neoclassical growth model, we analyze several post-Brexit scenarios. First, the United Kingdom unilaterally imposes tighter restrictions on FDI and trade from other EU nations. Second, the European Union retaliates and imposes the same restrictions on the UK. Finally, the United Kingdom reduces restrictions on other nations during the post-Brexit transition. Model predictions depend crucially on the policy response of multinationals’ investment in technology capital, accumulated know-how from investments in R&D, brands, and organizations used simultaneously in their domestic and foreign operations.
What determines the earnings of a worker relative to his peers in the same occupation? What makes a worker fail in one occupation but succeed in another? More broadly, what are the factors that determine the productivity of a worker-occupation match? In this paper, we propose an empirical measure of skill mismatch for a worker-occupation match, which sheds light on these questions. This measure is based on the discrepancy between the portfolio of skills required by an occupation and the portfolio of abilities possessed by a worker for learning those skills. This measure arises naturally in a dynamic model of occupational choice and human capital accumulation with multidimensional skills and Bayesian learning about one’s ability to learn these skills. In this model, mismatch is central to the career outcomes of workers: it reduces the returns to occupational tenure, and it predicts occupational switching behavior. We construct our empirical analog by combining data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79), the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) on workers, and the O*NET on occupations. Our empirical results show that the effects of mismatch on wages are large and persistent: mismatch in occupations held early in life has a strong negative effect on wages in future occupations. Skill mismatch also significantly increases the probability of an occupational switch and predicts its direction in the skill space. These results provide fresh evidence on the importance of skill mismatch for the job search process.