Creator: Boldrin, Michele and Montes, Ana Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 336 Abstract:
When credit markets to finance investment in human capital are missing, the competitive equilibrium allocation is inefficient. When generations overlap, this failure can be mitigated by properly designed social arrangements. We show that public financing of education and public pensions can be designed to implement an intergenerational transfer scheme supporting the complete market allocation. Neither the public financing of education nor the pension scheme we consider resemble standard ones. In our mechanism, via the public education system, the young borrow from the middle aged to invest in human capital. They pay back the debt via a social security tax, the proceedings of which finance pension payments. When the complete market allocation is achieved, the rate of return implicit in this borrowing-lending scheme should equal the market rate of return.
Keyword: Public pensions, Public education, and Efficient intergenerational arrangements Subject (JEL): H42 - Publicly Provided Private Goods, I20 - Education and Research Institutions: General, O11 - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development, H11 - Structure, Scope, and Performance of Government, and H30 - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents: General
Creator: Neumeyer, Pablo Andrés and Perri, Fabrizio Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 335 Abstract:
We find that in a sample of emerging economies business cycles are more volatile than in developed ones, real interest rates are countercyclical and lead the cycle, consumption is more volatile than output and net exports are strongly countercyclical. We present a model of a small open economy, where the real interest rate is decomposed in an international rate and a country risk component. Country risk is affected by fundamental shocks but, through the presence of working capital, also amplifies the effects of those shocks. The model generates business cycles consistent with Argentine data. Eliminating country risk lowers Argentine output volatility by 27% while stabilizing international rates lowers it by less than 3%.
Keyword: International business cycles, Working capital, Country risk, Sudden stops, and Financial crises Subject (JEL): F41 - Open Economy Macroeconomics, F32 - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements, and E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
Creator: Betts, Caroline M. and Kehoe, Timothy Jerome, 1953- Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 334 Abstract:
This paper studies the relation between the United States’ bilateral real exchange rate and the associated bilateral relative price of nontraded goods for five of its most important trade relationships. Traditional theory attributes fluctuations in real exchange rates to changes in the relative price of nontraded goods. We find that this relation depends crucially on the choice of price series used to measure relative prices and on the choice of trade partner. The relation is stronger when we measure relative prices using producer prices rather than consumer prices. The relation is stronger the more important is the trade relationship between the United States and a trade partner. Even in cases where there is a strong relation between the real exchange rate and the relative price of nontraded goods, however, a large fraction of real exchange rate fluctuations is due to deviations from the law of one price for traded goods.
Keyword: Relative prices, Real exchange rates, and Trade relations
Creator: Parente, Stephen L. and Prescott, Edward C. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 333 Abstract:
This essay develops a theory of the evolution of international income levels. In particular, it augments the Hansen-Prescott theory of economic development with the Parente-Prescott theory of relative efficiencies and shows that the unified theory accounts for the evolution of international income levels over the last millennium. The essence of this unified theory is that a country starts to experience sustained increases in its living standard when production efficiency reaches a critical point. Countries reach this critical level of efficiency at different dates not because they have access to different stocks of knowledge, but rather because they differ in the amount of society-imposed constraints on the technology choices of their citizenry.
Keyword: Catch-up, Trading clubs, Capital share, Aggregate economic efficiency, and Transition to modern economic growth Subject (JEL): E00 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics: General, O19 - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations, O11 - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development, and F40 - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance: General
Creator: Atkeson, Andrew and Kehoe, Patrick J. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 331 Abstract:
Are deflation and depression empirically linked? No, concludes a broad historical study of inflation and real output growth rates. Deflation and depression do seem to have been linked during the 1930s. But in the rest of the data for 17 countries and more than 100 years, there is virtually no evidence of such a link.
Subject (JEL): N10 - Economic History: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations: General, International, or Comparative, E31 - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation, and E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
Creator: Chari, V. V. and Kehoe, Patrick J. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 330 Abstract:
The desirability of fiscal constraints in monetary unions depends critically on whether the monetary authority can commit to follow its policies. If it can commit, then debt constraints can only impose costs. If it cannot commit, then fiscal policy has a free-rider problem, and debt constraints may be desirable. This type of free-rider problem is new and arises only because of a time inconsistency problem.
Subject (JEL): F42 - International Policy Coordination and Transmission, F41 - Open Economy Macroeconomics, E63 - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy, E58 - Central Banks and Their Policies, and F33 - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
Creator: Khan, Aubhik and Thomas, Julia Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 329 Abstract:
We develop an equilibrium business cycle model where producers of final goods pursue generalized (S,s) inventory policies with respect to intermediate goods due to nonconvex factor adjustment costs. When calibrated to reproduce the average inventory-to-sales ratio in postwar U.S. data, our model explains over half of the cyclical variability of inventory investment. Moreover, inventory accumulation is strongly procyclical, and production is more volatile than sales, as in the data.
The comovement between inventory investment and final sales is often interpreted as evidence that inventories amplify aggregate fluctuations. In contrast, our model economy exhibits a business cycle similar to that of a comparable benchmark without inventories, though we do observe somewhat higher variability in employment, and lower variability in consumption and investment. Thus, our equilibrium analysis reveals that the presence of inventories does not substantially raise the cyclical variability of production, because it dampens movements in final sales.
Keyword: Business cycles and (S,s) inventories Subject (JEL): E22 - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity and E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
Creator: Chari, V. V., Kehoe, Patrick J., and McGrattan, Ellen R. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 328 Abstract:
We propose a simple method to help researchers develop quantitative models of economic fluctuations. The method rests on the insight that many models are equivalent to a prototype growth model with time-varying wedges which resemble productivity, labor and investment taxes, and government consumption. Wedges corresponding to these variables—efficiency, labor, investment, and government consumption wedges—are measured and then fed back into the model in order to assess the fraction of various fluctuations they account for. Applying this method to U.S. data for the Great Depression and the 1982 recession reveals that the efficiency and labor wedges together account for essentially all of the fluctuations; the investment wedge plays a decidedly tertiary role, and the government consumption wedge, none. Analyses of the entire postwar period and alternative model specifications support these results. Models with frictions manifested primarily as investment wedges are thus not promising for the study of business cycles. (See Additional Material for a response to Christiano and Davis (2006).)
Keyword: Capacity utilization, Sticky prices, Equivalence theorems, Financial frictions, Productivity decline, Great Depression , and Sticky wages Subject (JEL): E10 - General Aggregative Models: General and E12 - General Aggregative Models: Keynes; Keynesian; Post-Keynesian
Creator: King, Robert G. (Robert Graham) and Thomas, Julia Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 327 Abstract:
Many kinds of economic behavior involve discrete and occasional individual choices. Despite this, econometric partial adjustment models perform relatively well at the aggregate level. Analyzing the classic employment adjustment problem, we show how such microeconomic adjustment is well described by a new form of partial adjustment model that aggregates the actions of heterogeneous producers.
We develop a model where individual establishments infrequently alter the sizes of their workforces because such adjustments involve fixed costs. In the market equilibrium, employment responses to aggregate disturbances include changes both in target employments selected by individual establishments and in the measure of establishments actively undertaking adjustment. Yet the model retains a partial adjustment flavor in its aggregate responses. Moreover, in contrast to existing discrete adjustment models, our generalized partial adjustment model is sufficiently tractable to allow general equilibrium analysis, and it naturally extends to accommodate persistent differences in productivity across establishments in general equilibrium.
Keyword: Employment Dynamics, (S,s) Adjustment, and Partial Adjustment Subject (JEL): E20 - Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy: General (includes Measurement and Data) and E10 - General Aggregative Models: General
Creator: Athey, Susan, Atkeson, Andrew, and Kehoe, Patrick J. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 326 Abstract:
How much discretion should the monetary authority have in setting its policy? This question is analyzed in an economy with an agreed-upon social welfare function that depends on the randomly fluctuating state of the economy. The monetary authority has private information about that state. In the model, well-designed rules trade off society’s desire to give the monetary authority discretion to react to its private information against society’s need to guard against the time inconsistency problem arising from the temptation to stimulate the economy with unexpected inflation. Although this dynamic mechanism design problem seems complex, society can implement the optimal policy simply by legislating an inflation cap that specifies the highest allowable inflation rate. The more severe the time inconsistency problem and the less important is private information, the smaller is the optimal degree of discretion. As either the time inconsistency problem becomes sufficiently severe or private information becomes sufficiently unimportant, the optimal degree of discretion is none.
Keyword: Inflation caps, Optimal monetary policy, Inflation targets, Rules vs. discretion , Time inconsistency, and Activist monetary policy Subject (JEL): E60 - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook: General, E52 - Monetary Policy, E58 - Central Banks and Their Policies, E50 - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit: General, and E61 - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
Creator: Holmes, Thomas J. and Mitchell, Matt Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 325 Abstract:
In this paper we develop a theory of how factors interact at the plant level. The theory has implications for (1) the micro foundations for capital-skill complementarity, (2) the relationship between factor allocation and plant size, and (3) the effects of trade and growth on the skill premium. The theory is consistent with certain facts about factor allocation and factor price changes in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Subject (JEL): J30 - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs: General, F10 - Trade: General, and L20 - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior: General
Creator: Chari, V. V. and Jones, Larry E. Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 324 Abstract:
This paper examines the validity of one very special version of Coase's Theorem. The version we examine is that in any economy in which the property rights are fully allocated, competition will lead to efficient allocations. One repercussion of this result is that one way to "solve" the public goods problem would be to allocate property rights fully, transforming the economy to a private goods one and let markets do their work. This is particularly appealing due to its decentralized nature, but one must question the claim that the market will lead to efficient outcomes in this case. That is, the privatized economy created above is of a very special type which, as it turns out is highly susceptible to strategic behavior. We show that the "mechanism" suggested above is not likely to work well in economies with either pure public goods or "global" externalities. Basically, the free-rider problem manifests itself as one of monopoly power in this private goods setting. On the other hand, if the public goods or externalities are "local" in nature, there is reason to hope that this (and perhaps other) mechanism(s) will work well. The work is related to the recent literature on the foundations of Walrasian Equilibrium in that it points up a relationship between the appropriateness of Walrasian equilibrium as a solution concept, the incentives for strategic play, the aggregate level of complementarities in the economy and the problem of coordinating economic activity.
Keyword: Competition, Coordinating economic activity, Property rights, Walrasian Equilibrium, and Coase's Theorem Subject (JEL): H41 - Public Goods
Creator: Cagetti, Marco and De Nardi, Mariacristina Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 322 Abstract:
Although the role of financial constraints on entrepreneurial choices has received considerable attention, the effects of these constraints on aggregate capital accumulation and wealth inequality are less known. Entrepreneurship is an important determinant of capital accumulation and wealth concentration and, conversely, the distribution of wealth affects entrepreneurial choices in the presence of borrowing constraints. We construct a model that matches wealth inequality very well, for both entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs, and find that more restrictive borrowing constraints generate less wealth concentration, but also reduce average firm size, aggregate capital, and the fraction of entrepreneurs. We also find that voluntary bequests are an important channel that allows some high-ability workers to establish or enlarge an entrepreneurial activity: with accidental bequests only, there would be fewer large firms, fewer entrepreneurs, and less aggregate capital, but also less wealth concentration.
Keyword: Wealth, Entrepreneurship, Inequality, and Borrowing constraints Subject (JEL): E60 - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook: General, H32 - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents: Firm, E21 - Macroeconomics: Consumption; Saving; Wealth, and H20 - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue: General
Creator: Prescott, Edward C. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 321 Abstract:
Americans now work 50 percent more than do the Germans, French, and Italians. This was not the case in the early 1970s when the Western Europeans worked more than Americans. In this paper, I examine the role of taxes in accounting for the differences in labor supply across time and across countries, in particular, the effective marginal tax rate on labor income. The population of countries considered is that of the G-7 countries, which are major advanced industrial countries. The surprising finding is that this marginal tax rate accounts for the predominance of the differences at points in time and the large change in relative labor supply over time with the exception of the Italian labor supply in the early 1970s.
Keyword: Social Security Reform, International Labor Supply, and International Tax Rates Subject (JEL): E62 - Fiscal Policy, E13 - General Aggregative Models: Neoclassical, E24 - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity, and H20 - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue: General
Creator: Aiyagari, S. Rao Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 319 Abstract:
We consider the existence of deterministically cycling steady state equilibria in a class of stationary overlapping generations models with sufficiently long (but, finite) lived agents. Preferences are of the discounted sum of utilities type with a fixed discount rate. Utility functions with large coefficients of relative risk aversion which generate strong income effects (relative to substitution effects) and backward bending offer curves are permitted. Lifetime endowment patterns are quite arbitrary. We show that if agents have a positive discount rate, then as agents1 lifespans get large, short period non-monetary cycles will disappear. Further, constant monetary steady states do not exist and therefore, neither do stationary monetary cycles of any period. We then consider the case where agents have a negative discount rate and show that there are robust examples in which constant monetary steady states as well as stationary monetary cycles (with undiminished amplitude) can occur no matter how long agents live.
Keyword: Longevity, Business cycles, Intertemporal choice, and Monetary theory Subject (JEL): D91 - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics: Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making and N10 - Economic History: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations: General, International, or Comparative
Creator: Albanesi, Stefania, Chari, V. V., and Christiano, Lawrence J. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 319 Abstract:
Why is inflation persistently high in some periods and low in others? The reason may be absence of commitment in monetary policy. In a standard model, absence of commitment leads to multiple equilibria, or expectation traps, even without trigger strategies. In these traps, expectations of high or low inflation lead the public to take defensive actions, which then make accommodating those expectations the optimal monetary policy. Under commitment, the equilibrium is unique and the inflation rate is low on average. This analysis suggests that institutions which promote commitment can prevent high inflation episodes from recurring.
Subject (JEL): E63 - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy, E50 - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit: General, and E61 - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
Creator: Kehoe, Timothy Jerome, 1953- Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 318 Abstract:
Currently, Argentina is experiencing what the government describes as a “great depression.” Using the “Great Depressions” methodology developed by Cole and Ohanian (1999) and Kehoe and Prescott (2002), we find that the primary determinants of both the boom in Argentina in the 1990s and the subsequent depression were changes in productivity, rather than changes in factor inputs. The timing of events links the boom to the currency-board-like Convertibility Plan and the crisis to its collapse. To gain credibility, the Argentine government took measures to make abandoning the plan more costly. Because the government was unable to enforce fiscal discipline, however, these increased costs failed to make the plan more credible and instead made the crisis far worse when it failed.