Fertility Shocks and Equilibrium Marriage-Rate Dynamics: Lessons from World War 1 in France

April 20, 2015

By John Knowles and Guillaume Vandenbroucke


Low sex ratios are often equated with unfavorable marriage prospects for women, but in France after World War 1, the marriage probability of single females rose 50%, despite a massive drop in the male/female ratio. We conjecture that the war-time birth-rate bust induced an abnormal postwar abundance of singles with relatively high marriage propensities. We compute the equilibrium response, in a life-cycle matching model, of marriage hazards to war-time fertility and male-mortality shocks. Our results implicate two powerful forces: an abnormal abundance of marriageable men, and increased gains from marriage due to post-war pro-natalism.

This paper addresses an interesting puzzle that lasted well beyond the immediate post-war years. What makes even more interesting is that one needs more than simple bean-counting, as too often in demographics, to offer a solution. To quantitatively match the increase in marriage rates, one has to factor in the added incentives from having children after war, first because the father is less likely to die, and second because there were explicit pro-natalist propaganda and fiscal nudges.

Dynamic Directed Search

April 12, 2015

By Gabriele Camera and Jaehong Kim


The directed search model (Peters, 1984) is static; its dynamic extensions typically restrict strategies, often assuming price or match commitments. We lift such restrictions to study equilibrium when search can be directed over time, without constraints and at no cost. In equilibrium trade frictions arise endogenously, and price commitments, if they do exist, are self-enforcing. In contrast to the typical model, there exists a continuum of equilibria that exhibit trade frictions. These equilibria support any price above the static price, including monopoly pricing in arbitrarily large markets. Dispersion in posted prices can naturally arise as temporary or permanent phenomenon despite the absence of pre-existing heterogeneity.

I think directed search holds much promise, foremost because we all search with some direction, not randomly. This paper also shows that directed search can get to many of the stylized facts that hard (but not impossible) to achieve with random search models, such as price dispersion, multiple equilibria, and endogenous frictions. I most intrigued by self-enforcing price commitments: This is like reputation, and to get that endogenously is not obvious.

A quantitative analysis of the U.S. housing and mortgage markets and the foreclosure crisis

April 9, 2015

By Satyajit Chatterjeeand Burcu Eyigungor


We present a model of long-duration collateralized debt with risk of default. Applied to the housing market, it can match the homeownership rate, the average foreclosure rate, and the lower tail of the distribution of home-equity ratios across homeowners prior to the recent crisis. We stress the role of favorable tax treatment of housing in matching these facts. We then use the model to account for the foreclosure crisis in terms of three shocks: overbuilding, financial frictions, and foreclosure delays. The financial friction shock accounts for much of the decline in house prices, while the foreclosure delays account for most of the rise in foreclosures. The scale of the foreclosure crisis might have been smaller if mortgage interest payments were not tax deductible. Temporarily higher inflation might have lowered the foreclosure rate as well.

This paper is a perfect example of good use of DSGE and micro-foundations: an important question, careful modeling that addresses that question, replication of data, and alternative policy scenarios.

Monetary policy transmission in China: A DSGE model with parallel shadow banking and interest rate control

April 7, 2015

By Michael Funke, Petar Mihaylovski and Haibin Zhu


The paper sheds light on the interplay between monetary policy, the commercial banking sector and the shadow banking sector in mainland China by means of a nonlinear stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model with occasionally binding constraints. In particular, we analyze the impacts of interest rate liberalization on monetary policy transmission as well as the dynamics of the parallel shadow banking sector. Comparison of various interest rate liberalization scenarios reveals that monetary policy results in increased feed-through to the lending and investment under complete liberalization. Furthermore, tighter regulation of interest rates in the commercial banking sector in China leads to an increase in loans provided by the shadow banking sector.

China is special, and the Chinese financial sector extra-special, with a heavy regulated and nudged official banking sector and an over-sized shadow banking system. How to conduct monetary policy in such an environment is a challenge, and so is understanding how undoing some of the constraints is going to impact all sectors. This paper is a nice attempt at tackling this.

March 2015 call for papers

March 30, 2015

This month’s crop:

Labour Market Policy Evaluations Using Job Search and Matching Models, Mannheim, 8-9 June 2015.

Workshop on Political Economy, Stony Brook, 29-31 July 2015.

Canadian Macro Study Group, Montreal, 6-7 November 2015

Monetary policy implications for an oil-exporting economy of lower long-run international oil prices

March 29, 2015

By Franz Hamann, Jesús Bejarano and Diego Rodriguez


The sudden collapse of oil prices poses a challenge to inflation targeting central banks in oil exporting economies. This paper illustrates that challenge and conducts a quantitative assessment of the impact of permanent changes in oil prices in a small and open economy, in which oil represents an important fraction of its exports. We calibrate and estimate a variety of real and monetary dynamic stochastic general equilibrium models using Colombian historical data. We find that, in these artificial economies the macroeconomic effects can be large but vary depending on the structure of the economy. The main channels through which the shock passes to the economy come from the increased country risk premium, the real exchange rate depreciation, the sectoral reallocation of resources from nontradables to tradables and the sluggish adjustment of prices. Contrary to the conventional findings in the literature of the financial accelerator mechanism for single-good closed economies, in multiple-goods small open economies the financial accelerator does not play a significant role in magnifying macroeconomic fluctuations. The sectoral reallocation from nontradable to tradables diminishes the financial amplification mechanism.

This paper essentially argues that there is no reason for central banks in oil exporting countries to panic when the oil price drops. Let the real exchange rate do its magic, let the economy adjust, and target the inflation rate of non-tradables, and you will be fine. If the oil price remains very low, though, this is a different matter, but there is little a central bank can do in terms of long terms structural adjustment or major changes in permanent income anyway

What we don’t know doesn’t hurt us: rational inattention and the permanent income hypothesis in general equilibrium

March 26, 2015

By Jun Nie, Yulei Luo, Gaowang Wang and Eric Young


This paper derives the general equilibrium effects of rational inattention (or RI; Sims 2003,2010) in a model of incomplete income insurance (Huggett 1993, Wang 2003). We show that,under the assumption of CARA utility with Gaussian shocks, the permanent income hypothesis (PIH) arises in steady state equilibrium due to a balancing of precautionary savings and impatience. We then explore how RI affects the equilibrium joint dynamics of consumption, income and wealth, and find that elastic attention can make the model fit the data better. We finally show that the welfare costs of incomplete information are even smaller due to general equilibrium adjustments in interest rates.

What I take away from this paper is that general equilibrium effects are impressive. Here we have an environment where economic agents suffer from incomplete information, which should make that the permanent income hypothesis should fail, yet interest rates put them right back on track. One could say that it is not new that prices reveal information that markets participants do not know individually. However, the added difficulty here is that for the hypothesis to hold under complete information, said interest rate needs to align with time preferences. So it is not obvious that things still fall into place once you remove information.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 526 other followers