November 15, 2019
By Daniel Carroll and Sewon Hur
How are the gains and losses from trade distributed across individuals within a country? First, we document that tradable goods and services constitute a larger fraction of expenditures for low-wealth and low-income households. Second, we build a trade model with nonhomothetic preferences—to generate the documented relationship between tradable expenditure shares, income, and wealth—and uninsurable earnings risk—to generate heterogeneity in income and wealth. Third, we use the calibrated model to quantify the differential welfare gains and losses from trade along the income and wealth distribution. In a numerical exercise, we permanently reduce trade costs so as to generate a rise in import share of GDP commensurate with that seen in the data from 2001 to 2014. We find that households in the lowest wealth decile experience welfare gains over the transition, measured by permanent consumption equivalents, that are 57 percent larger than those in the highest wealth decile.
I sometimes hear the argument that the poor benefit the least (if not lose) from international trade: they face potentially lower wages and their job are more likely to be outsourced. Today, I learned that in fact they have a large benefit from their purchases, which are more likely to be tradables than for the general population. The paper argues that this makes them benefit overall more than anybody else from trade, including during a transition while trade is opened more.
November 5, 2019
By Miroslav Gabrovski and Victor Ortego-Marti
This paper develops a business cycle model of the housing market with search frictions and entry of both buyers and sellers. The housing market exhibits a well-established cyclical component, which features three stylized facts: prices move in the same direction as sales and the number of houses for sale, but opposite to the time it takes to sell a house. These stylized facts imply that in the data housing vacancies and the number of buyers are positively correlated, i.e. that the Beveridge Curve is upward sloping. A baseline search and matching model of the housing market is unable to match these stylized facts because it inherently generates a downward sloping Beveridge Curve. With free entry of both buyers and sellers, our model reproduces the positive correlation between prices, sales and vacancies, and matches the stylized facts qualitatively and quantitatively.
You often hear that the real estate market is different from other markets, even other asset markets, in fundamental ways. This paper shows that the sometimes peculiar dynamics of that market can be rationalized without heroic assumptions.
October 30, 2019
By Yongsung Chang, Sun-Bin Kim, Kyooho Kwon and Richard Rogerson
Standard heterogeneous agent macro models that highlight idiosyncratic productivity shocks do not generate the near zero cross-sectional correlation between hours and wages found in the data. We ask whether matching this moment matters for business cycle properties of these models. To do this we explore two extensions of the model in Chang et al. (2019) that can match this empirical cross-section correlation. One of these departs from the assumption of balanced growth preferences. The other introduces an idiosyncratic shock to the opportunity cost of market work that is highly correlated with the shock to market productivity. While both extensions can match the empirical correlation, they have large and opposing effects on the cyclical volatility of the labor market. We conclude that the cross-sectional moment is important for business cycle analysis and that more work is needed to distinguish the potential mechanisms that can generate it.
The time series correlation between hours and wages has been a real struggle with representative agent business cycle model. Now it pops up again as a stumbling block with heterogeneous agents, this time as a cross-sectional correlation. I expect this to be the first of many papers on the subject.
October 28, 2019
By Hanming Fand and Andrew Shepherd
Health insurance in the United States for the working age population has traditionally been provided in the form of employer-sponsored health insurance (ESHI). If employers offered ESHI to their employees, they also typically extended coverage to their spouse and dependents. Provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) significantly alter the incentive for firms to offer insurance to the spouses of employees. We evaluate the long-run impact of the ACA on firms’ insurance offerings and on household outcomes by developing and estimating an equilibrium job search model in which multiple household members are searching for jobs. The distribution of job offers is determined endogenously, with compensation packages consisting of a wage and menu of insurance offerings (premiums and coverage) that workers select from. Using our estimated model we find that households’ valuation of employer-sponsored spousal health insurance is significantly reduced under the ACA, and with an “employee-only” health insurance contract emerging among low productivity firms. We relate these outcomes to the specific provisions in the ACA.
The health insurance system in the United States is very peculiar in the sense that it is provided by employers (or at least most of them) and includes coverage for spouses. The fact that health insurance is tied to one’s job does not look good for the insurance aspect of it, but it sure gives unlimited research potential for economists thanks to all the general equilibrium effects this entails in all sorts of markets. That paper is a nice example of this.
October 25, 2019
By Likas Altermatt
I develop a new monetarist model to analyze why an economy can fall into a liquidity trap, and what the effects of unconventional monetary policy measures such as helicopter money and negative interest rates are under these circumstances. I find that liquidity traps can be caused by a decrease in the bonds-to-money ratio, by a decrease in productivity of capital, or by an increase in demand for consumption. The model shows that, while conventional monetary policy cannot control inflation in a liquidity trap, unconventional monetary policies allow the monetary authority to regain control over the inflation rate, and that an increase in the bonds-to-money ratio is the only welfare-improving policy.
It is an intriguing insight that it all depends on the bonds-to-money ratio, and hence to improve its yield differential goes through negative interest rates on reserves if bond yields are too low.
October 25, 2019
By Baris Kaymak and Immo Schott
The corporate tax code allows corporations to write off operating losses against past or future tax obligations, resulting in effective tax rates that are firm-specific and dependent on the history of the firm’s performance. Since losses are partly an indication of a drop in productivity, which is generally persistent over time, firms with higher expected productivity face, on average, higher marginal taxes on their investment. In this paper, we analyze the distortionary effects of loss-offset provisions on investment and assess the associated aggregate output losses implied by the misallocation of capital. We find that replacing the corporate income tax with a revenue-neutral value-added tax which eliminates the firm-level differences in effective tax rates leads to a 13.9 percent increase in aggregate output.
Wow. I would never have expected 1) such a large distortion, and 2) that VAT would be so powerful.
October 23, 2019
By Jonathan Chiu, Janet Hua Jiang, Seyed Mohammadreza Davoodalhosseini and Yu Zhu
This paper builds a model with imperfect competition in the banking sector. In the model, banks issue deposits and make loans, and deposits can be used as payment instruments by households. We use the model to assess the general equilibrium effects of introducing central bank digital currency (CBDC). We identify a new channel through which CBDC can improve the efficiency of bank intermediation and increase lending and aggregate output even if its usage is low, i.e., CBDC serves as an outside option for households, thus limiting banks’ market power in the deposit market. We then calibrate the model to evaluate the quantitative implication of this channel.
This paper claims that CBDC can improve outcomes by make the deposit market more competitive remove some of the rents that banks enjoy. But it seems to be that this does not need to be a digital currency, in other words having the central bank open deposit accounts for non-financial institutions would achieve the same outcome.