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  • Author: Davide Debortoli, Ricardo Nunes
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • 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: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • 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: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • 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: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • 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: Joseph W. Gruber, Steven B. Kamin
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • 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: Ricardo Correa
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • 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: Francis E. Warnock, John Ammer, Sara B. Holland, David C. Smith
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Abstract: This paper investigates the underlying determinants of home bias using a comprehensive sample of U.S. investor holdings of foreign stocks. We document that U.S. cross-listings are economically important, as U.S. ownership in a foreign firm roughly doubles upon cross-listing in the United States. We explore the cross-sectional variation in this "cross-listing effect" and show that increases in U.S. investment are largest in firms from weak accounting backgrounds and in firms that are otherwise informationally opaque, indicating that U.S. investors value the improvements in disclosure associated with cross-listing. We confirm that relative equity valuations rise for cross-listed stocks, and provide evidence suggesting that valuation increases are due in part to increases in U.S. shareholder demand and in part to the fact that the equities become more attractive to non-U.S. shareholders.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Steven B. Kamin, Carol C. Bertaut, Charles P. Thomas
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Abstract: This paper addresses three questions about the prospects for the U.S. current account deficit. Is it sustainable in the long term? If not, how long will it take for measures of external debt and debt service to reach levels that could prompt some pullback by global investors? And if and when such levels are breached, how readily would asset prices respond and the current account start to narrow?
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, Government, International Political Economy, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Luca Guerrieri, Christopher Gust, David López-Salido
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Abstract: We develop and estimate an open economy New Keynesian Phillips curve (NKPC) in which variable demand elasticities give rise to changes in desired markups in response to changes in competitive pressure from abroad. A parametric restriction on our specification yields the standard NKPC, in which the elasticity is constant, and there is no role for foreign competition to influence domestic inflation. By comparing the unrestricted and restricted specifications, we provide evidence that foreign competition plays an important role in accounting for the behavior of inflation in the traded goods sector. Our estimates suggest that foreign competition has lowered domestic goods inflation about 1 percentage point over the 2000-2006 period. Our results also provide evidence against demand curves with a constant elasticity in the context of models of monopolistic competition.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Charles P. Thomas, Jaime Marquez, Sean Fahle
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Abstract: In this paper we construct a new measure of U.S. prices relative to those of its trading partners and use it to reexamine the behavior of U.S. net exports. Our measure differs from existing measures of the dollar's real effective exchange rate (REER) in that it explicitly incorporates both the difference in price levels between the United States and developing economies and the growing importance of these developing economies in world trade. Unlike existing REERs, our measure shows that relative U.S. prices have increased significantly over the past 15 years. In terms of simple correlations, the relationship between our measure of relative prices and U.S. net exports is much more coherent than that between existing REERs and net exports. To explore this relationship further, we use our measure to construct an index of foreign prices relevant for U.S. export volumes and reexamine several export equations. We find that export equations with the new index dominate those with previous measures in terms of in-sample fit, outof- sample fit, and parameter constancy. In addition, we find that with the new index of foreign prices the estimated elasticity of U.S. exports with respect to foreign income is a good bit higher than the unitary elasticity found in previous studies using other price measures. This has implications for U.S. current account adjustment.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Daniel O. Beltran, Laurie Pounder, Charles Thomas
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Abstract: The financial turmoil which began in August 2007 originated, in part, because investors reassessed the quality of the assets underlying many asset-backed securities (ABS), particularly U.S. mortgages. The prominence of European banks in the early stages of the turmoil created the perception that foreigners held an outsized share of risky U.S. securities and prompted questions of why Europeans were so exposed. This paper evaluates that perception by quantifying foreign exposure to ABS with U.S. underlying collateral. Using the latest survey data on foreign portfolio holdings of U.S. securities, we find that the ultimate losses that foreigners could incur arising from U.S. underlying assets are small relative to most scale variables, although initial total mark-to-market losses are estimated to be significantly larger. Among other reasons for this difference between ultimate and initial losses, we demonstrate that the securitization chain can amplify mark-to-market price declines in the presence of uncertainty or illiquidity. Finally, we show that, relative to the size of the market, foreigners’ holdings of U.S. mortgage-backed securities do not appear to be elevated compared with their holdings of other U.S. assets.
  • Topic: Economics, Financial Crisis, Financial Markets, Mortgages
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Lutz Kilian, Clara Vega
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Abstract: Models that treat innovations to the price of energy as predetermined with respect to U.S. macroeconomic aggregates are widely used in the literature. For example, it is common to order energy prices first in recursively identified VAR models of the transmission of energy price shocks. Since exactly identifying assumptions are inherently untestable, this approach in practice has required an act of faith in the empirical plausibility of the delay restriction used for identification. An alternative view that would invalidate such models is that energy prices respond instantaneously to macroeconomic news, implying that energy prices should be ordered last in recursively identified VAR models. In this paper, we propose a formal test of the identifying assumption that energy prices are predetermined with respect to U.S. macroeconomic aggregates. Our test is based on regressing cumulative changes in daily energy prices on daily news from U.S. macroeconomic data releases. Using a wide range of macroeconomic news, we find no compelling evidence of feedback at daily or monthly horizons, contradicting the view that energy prices respond instantaneously to macroeconomic news and supporting the use of delay restrictions for identification.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Oil, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Seth Pruitt
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Abstract: An economic agent who is uncertain of her economic model learns, and this learning is sensi- tive to the presence of data measurement error. I investigate this idea in an existing framework that describes the Federal Reserve’s role in U.S. inflation. This framework successfully fits the observed inflation to optimal policy, but fails to motivate the optimal policy by the perceived Philips curve trade-off between inflation and unemployment. I modify the framework to account for data uncertainty calibrated to the actual size of data revisions. The modified framework ameliorates the existing problems by adding sluggishness to the Federal Reserve’s learning: the key point is that data uncertainty is amplified by the nonlinearity induced by learning. Conse- quently there is an explanation for the rise and fall in inflation: the concurrent rise and fall in the perceived Philips curve trade-off.
  • Topic: Economics, Inflation, Models
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Beth Anne Wilson, Jane T. Haltmaier, Shaghil Ahmed, Brahima Coulibaly, Ross Knippenberg, Sylvain Leduc, Mario Marazzi
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Abstract: This paper assesses China's role in Asia as an independent engine of growth, as a conduit of demand from the industrial countries, and as a competitor for export markets. We provide both macroeconomic and microeconomic evidence. The macroeconomic analysis focuses on the impact of U.S. and Chinese demand on the output of the Asian economies by estimating growth comovements and VARs. The results suggest an increasing role of China as an independent source of growth. The microeconomic analysis decomposes trade into basic products, parts and components, and finished goods. We find a large role for parts and components trade consistent with China playing an important and increasing role as a conduit. We also estimate some regressions that show that China's increasing presence in export markets has had a negative effect on exports of some products for some other Asian economies, but not for other products, including those of the important electronic high-technology industry.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • Author: Robert Vigfusson, Nathan Sheets, Joseph Gagnon
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Abstract: A growing body of empirical work has found evidence of a decline in exchange rate pass-through to import prices in a number of industrial countries. Our paper complements this work by examining pass-through from the other side of the transaction; that is, we assess the exchange rate sensitivity of export prices (denominated in the exporter's currency). We first sketch out a streamlined analytical model that highlights some key factors that determine pass-through. Using this model as reference, we find that the prices charged on exports to the United States are more responsive to the exchange rate than is the case for export prices to other destinations, which is consistent with results in the literature suggesting that import price pass-through in the U.S. market is relatively low. We also find that moves in the exchange rate sensitivity of export prices over time have been significantly affected by country and region-specific factors, including the Asian financial crisis (for emerging Asia), deepening integration with the United States (for Canada), and the effects of the 1992 ERM crisis (for the United Kingdom).
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Asia
  • Author: Steven B. Kamin, Trevor A. Reeve
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Abstract: In recent years, a number of studies have analyzed the experiences of a broad range of industrial economies during periods when their current account deficits have narrowed. Such studies identified systematic aspects of external adjustment, but it is unclear how good a guide the experience of other countries may be to the effects of a future narrowing of the U.S. external imbalance. In contrast, this paper focuses in depth on the historical experience of external adjustment in the United States. Using data from the past thirty-five years, we compare economic performance in episodes during which the U.S. trade balance deteriorated and episodes during which it adjusted. We find trade balance adjustment to have been generally benign: U.S. real GDP growth tended to fall, but not to a statistically significant extent; housing construction slumped; inflation generally rose modestly; and although nominal interest rates tended to rise, real interest rates fell. The paper then compares these outcomes to those in foreign industrial economies. We find that the economic performance of the United States during periods of external adjustment is remarkably similar to the foreign experience. Finally, we also examine the performance of the foreign industrial economies during the periods of U.S. deterioration and adjustment. Contrary to concerns that U.S. adjustment will prove injurious to foreign economies, our analysis suggests that the foreign economies fared reasonably well during past periods when the U.S. trade deficit narrowed: the growth of domestic demand and real GDP abroad generally strengthened during such episodes, although inflation and interest rates tended to rise as well.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Torben G. Andersen, Tim Bollerslev, Francis X. Diebold, Clara Vega
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Abstract: Using a unique high-frequency futures dataset, we characterize the response of U.S., German and British stock, bond and foreign exchange markets to real-time U.S. macroeconomic news. We find that news produces conditional mean jumps; hence high-frequency stock, bond and exchange rate dynamics are linked to fundamentals. Equity markets, moreover, react differently to news depending on the stage of the business cycle, which explains the low correlation between stock and bond returns when averaged over the cycle. Hence our results qualify earlier work suggesting that bond markets react most strongly to macroeconomic news; in particular, when conditioning on the state of the economy, the equity and foreign exchange markets appear equally responsive. Finally, we also document important contemporaneous links across all markets and countries, even after controlling for the effects of macroeconomic news.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Rogers, Charles Engel
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Abstract: We investigate the possibility that the large current account deficits of the U.S. are the outcome of optimizing behavior. We develop a simple long-run world equilibrium model in which a country's current account is determined by the expected discounted present value of its future share of world GDP relative to its current share of world GDP. The model suggests that under some reasonable assumptions about future U.S. GDP growth relative to the rest of the advanced countries – more modest than the growth over the past 20 years – the current account deficit is near optimal levels. We then explore the implications for the real exchange rate. Under some plausible assumptions, the model implies little change in the real exchange rate over the adjustment path, though the conclusion is sensitive to assumptions about tastes and technology. Then we turn to empirical evidence. Two empirical analyses of current account sustainability using actual data suggest that the U.S. is not keeping on a long-run sustainable path. One is a direct test of our model, which finds that the dynamics of the U.S. current account – the increasing deficits over the past decade – are difficult to explain under a particular statistical model (Markov-switching) of expectations of future U.S. growth. But, if we use survey data on forecasted GDP growth in the G7, our very simple model appears to explain the evolution of the U.S. current account remarkably well. We conclude that expectations of robust performance of the U.S. economy relative to the rest of the advanced countries is a contender – though not the only legitimate contender – for explaining the U.S. current account deficit.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jonathan H. Wright, David W. Berger, Alain P. Chaboud, Sergey V. Chernenko, Edward Howorka, Raj S. Iyer, David Liu
  • Publication Date: 04-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Abstract: We study the association between order flow and exchange rate returns in five years of high-frequency intraday data from the leading interdealer electronic broking system, EBS. While the association between order flow and exchange rate returns has been studied in several previous papers, these have mostly used relatively short spans of daily data from older bilateral dealing systems and, usually, transaction counts instead of actual trading volume. Using a substantially longer span of recent high-frequency data and measuring order flow as actual signed trading volume, we find a strong positive association between order flow and exchange rate returns at frequencies ranging from one minute to one day, and a more modest but still sizeable association at the monthly frequency. We find, however, no evidence that order flow has predictive power for future exchange rate movements beyond, possibly, the next minute. Focusing on the behavior of order flow and exchange rates at the time of scheduled U.S. economic data releases, we find that the surprise components of these announcements are associated with order flow at high frequency immediately after the data releases. This finding seems inconsistent with a simple efficient markets view of how a public news announcement is incorporated into prices.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John W. Schindler, Dustin H. Beckett
  • Publication Date: 04-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Abstract: Hong Kong plays a prominent role as a re-exporter of a large percentage of trade bound for or coming from China. Current reporting practices in China and its trading partners do not fully reflect this role and therefore provide a misleading picture of the origin or ultimate destination of Chinese exports and imports. We adjust bilateral trade data for both China and its trading partners to correct for this problem. We also correct for differences due to markups in Hong Kong and different standards for reporting trade (c.i.f. versus f.o.b.). For 2003, we estimate that China's overall trade surplus was between $53 billion and $126 billion, larger than that reported in official Chinese data, but smaller than that reported by China's trading partners. We also provide evidence that, in general, the actual origin of a good that is transshipped through Hong Kong is correctly reported by the importing country, but the final destination of such goods is not correctly reported by the exporting country.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Hong Kong