Credit Market Shocks: Evidence From Corporate Spreads and Defaults
Roland Meeks
Abstract: Several recent papers have found that exogenous shocks to spreads paid in corporate credit markets are a substantial source of macroeconomic fluctuations. An alternative explanation of the data is that spreads respond endogenously to expectations of future default. We use a simple model of bond spreads to derive sign restrictions on the impulse-response functions of a VAR that identify credit shocks in the bond market, and compare them to results from a benchmark recursive VAR. We find that credit market shocks cause a persistent decline in output, prices and policy rates. Historical decompositions clearly show the negative effect of adverse credit market shocks on output in the recent recession. The identified credit shocks are unrelated to exogenous innovations to monetary policy and measures of bond market liquidity, but are related to measures of risk compensation. In contrast to results found using the benchmark restrictions, our identified credit shocks account for relatively little of the variance of output. Our results are consistent with a role for shocks in financial crises, but also with a lesser but non-zero role in normal business fluctuations.


Measuring Oil-Price Shocks Using Market-Based Information
Tao Wu and Michele Cavallo
Abstract: We study the effects of oil-price shocks on the U.S economy combining narrative and quantitative approaches. After examining daily oil-related events since 1984, we classify them into various event types. We then develop measures of exogenous shocks that avoid endogeneity and predictability concerns. Estimation results indicate that oil-price shocks have had substantial and statistically signi cant effects during the last 25 years. In contrast, traditional VAR approaches imply much weaker and insignificant effects for the same period. This discrepancy stems from the inability of VARs to separate exogenous oil-supply shocks from endogenous oil-price fluctuations driven by changes in oil demand.


Preventing a Repeat of the Money Market Meltdown of the Early 1930s
John V. Duca
Abstract: This paper analyzes the meltdown of the commercial paper market during the Great Depression, and relates those findings to the recent financial crisis. Theoretical models of financial frictions and information problems imply that lenders will make fewer noncollateralized loans or investments and relatively more extensions of collateralized finance in times of high risk premiums. This study investigates the relevance of such theories to the Great Depression by analyzing whether the increased use of a collateralized form of business lending (bankers acceptances) relative to that of non-collateralized commercial paper can be econometrically attributable to measures of corporate credit/financial risk premiums. Because commercial paper and bankers acceptances are short-lived, they are more timely measures of the availability of short-term credit than are bank or business failures and the level or growth rate of the stock of bank loans, whose maturities were often longer and were renegotiable. In this way, the study adds to the literature on financial market frictions during the Great Depression, which aside from analyzing securities prices, typically investigates the behavior of credit-related variables that lag current conditions, such as bank failures, bankruptcies, the stock of money, or outstanding bank loans.

In particular, the real level of bankers acceptances and their use relative to noncollateralized commercial paper were strongly and positively related to spreads between corporate and treasury bond yields. Also significant were short-run events, such as the October 1929 stock market crash and the 1933 bank holiday episode that sparked flights to quality in the bond market and a flight to collateral (BAs) in the money market and perhaps away from the loan market. Furthermore, these shifts in the composition of external finance were large, supporting the view that financial frictions and reduced credit availability may have played an important role in depressing the U.S. economy during the 1930s.

The paper also relates these findings to the current financial crisis by examining how the relative use of commercial paper reacted to yield spreads during the current crisis, taking into account Federal Reserve actions to improve liquidity conditions in the money markets. Results suggest that these efforts may have, at least so far, helped prevent the commercial paper market from melting down to the extent seen during the early 1930s.


How Robust Are Popular Models of Nominal Frictions?
Benjamin D. Keen and Evan F. Koenig
Abstract: This paper analyzes three popular models of nominal price and wage frictions to determine which best fits post-war U.S. data. We construct a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model and use maximum likelihood to estimate each model's parameters. Because previous research finds that the conduct of monetary policy and the behavior of inflation changed in the early 1980s, we examine two distinct sample periods. Using a Bayesian, pseudo-odds measure as a means for comparison, a sticky price and wage model with dynamic indexation best fits the data in the early-sample period, whereas either a sticky price and wage model with static indexation or a sticky information model best fits the data in the late-sample period. Our results suggest that price- and wage-setting behavior may be sensitive to changes in the monetary policy regime. If true, the evaluation of alternative monetary policy rules may be even more complicated than previously believed.


Improving the ACCRA U.S. Regional Cost of Living Index
Keith R. Phillips and Christina Daly
Published as: Phillips, Keith R. and Christina Daly (2010), "Improving the ACCRA U.S. Regional Cost of Living Index," Journal of Economic and Social Measurement 35 (1-2): 33-42.
Abstract: The broadest and most commonly used measure of the cost of living across U.S. cities is the American Chamber of Commerce Research Association (ACCRA) index. This index is used by business and government organizations and the media to to rank living standards and real wages across U.S. cities. In this study we reduce the aggregation bias in the index by calculating national average prices for the 59 item prices using population weights instead of the equal weight formula used by ACCRA. This correction results in a decline in the index values for all cities and changes in the rankings and bi-variate comparisons between city pairs. In some high-cost cities the index values decrease by over 25 percent, and in 74 percent of the cities the rank changes by greater than one spot.


Do Immigrants Work in Riskier Jobs?
Pia M. Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny
Published as: Orrenius, Pia M. and Madeline Zavodny (2009), "Do Immigrants Work in Riskier Jobs?," Demography 46 (3): 535-551.
Abstract: Recent media and government reports suggest that immigrants are more likely to hold jobs with worse working conditions than U.S.-born workers, perhaps because immigrants work in jobs that "natives don't want." Despite this widespread view, earlier studies have not found immigrants to be in riskier jobs than natives. This study combines individual-level data from the 2003–2005 American Community Survey with Bureau of Labor Statistics data on work-related injuries and fatalities to take a fresh look at whether foreign-born workers are employed in more dangerous jobs. The results indicate that immigrants are in fact more likely to work in risky jobs than U.S.-born workers, partly due to differences in average characteristics, such as immigrants' lower English language ability and educational attainment.

Globalization Institute Working Papers

Globalization Institute No. 40

Business Cycles and Remittances: Can the Beveridge-Nelson Decomposition Provide New Evidence? 

Roberto Coronado

Abstract: In this paper, I analyze the business cycle properties of remittances and output series for three pairs of countries: United States–Mexico, United States–El Salvador, and Germany–Turkey. Using an unobserved components state-space model (via the Beveridge-Nelson decomposition), I decompose the remittances and output series into stochastic permanent and cyclical components. I then use the resulting stationary cyclical components to estimate co-movements between remittances and output series. Empirical results indicate that remittances are countercyclical with all the home countries: Mexico, El Salvador, and Turkey. With respect to source countries, remittances to Mexico are countercyclical with the United States business cycle, while remittances from the United States to El Salvador and remittances from Germany to Turkey are strongly procyclical with output fluctuations in the source country. The contribution of this paper to the literature is twofold: (1) I use high-frequency data (quarterly) for a relatively long period of time; and (2) I employ more recent and sophisticated econometric techniques in the decomposition of the series into stochastic permanent and cyclical components. The existing literature lacks both of these important aspects of my analysis. I show that once both of these factors are incorporated into the analysis, empirical results are more aligned to those predicted by economic theory.

Globalization Institute No. 39

State-Dependent Pricing, Local-Currency Pricing, and Exchange Rate Pass-Through 

Anthony Landry
Published as: Landry, Anthony (2010), "State-Dependent Pricing, Local-Currency Pricing, and Exchange Rate Pass-Through," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control 34 (10): 1859-1871.

Abstract: This paper presents a two-country DSGE model with state-dependent pricing as in Dotsey, King, and Wolman (1999) in which firms price-discriminate across countries by setting prices in local currency. In this model, a domestic monetary expansion has greater spillover effects to foreign prices and foreign economic activity than an otherwise identical model with time-dependent pricing. In addition, the predictions of the state-dependent pricing model match the business-cycle moments better than the predictions of the time-dependent pricing model when driven by monetary policy shocks.

Globalization Institute No. 36

Can Long-Horizon Forecasts Beat the Random Walk Under the Engel-West Explanation? 

Charles Engel, Jian Wang and Jason Wu

Abstract: Engel and West (EW, 2005) argue that as the discount factor gets closer to one, present-value asset pricing models place greater weight on future fundamentals. Consequently, current fundamentals have very weak forecasting power and exchange rates appear to follow approximately a random walk. We connect the Engel-West explanation to the studies of exchange rates with long-horizon regressions. We find that under EW's assumption that fundamentals are I(1) and observable to the econometrician, long-horizon regressions generally do not have significant forecasting power. However, when EW's assumptions are violated in a particular way, our analytical results show that there can be substantial power improvements for long-horizon regressions, even if the power of the corresponding shorthorizon regression is low. We simulate population Rsquared for long-horizon regressions in the latter setting, using Monetary and Taylor Rule models of exchange rates calibrated to the data. Simulations show that long-horizon regression can have substantial forecasting power for exchange rates.

Globalization Institute No. 28

Investment and Trade Patterns in a Sticky-Price, Open-Economy Model 

Enrique Martínez-García and Jens Søndergaard
Published as: Martínez-García, Enrique and Jens Søndergaard (2009), "Investment and Trade Patterns in a Sticky-Price, Open-Economy Model," in The Economics of Imperfect Markets, ed. Giorgio Calcagnini and Enrico Saltari (Berlin: Springer), 183-212.

Abstract: This paper develops a tractable two-country DSGE model with sticky prices à la Calvo (1983) and local-currency pricing. We analyze the capital investment decision in the presence of adjustment costs of two types, the capital adjustment cost (CAC) specification and the investment adjustment cost (IAC) specification. We compare the investment and trade patterns with adjustment costs against those of a model without adjustment costs and with (quasi-) flexible prices. We show that having adjustment costs results into more volatile consumption and net exports, and less volatile investment. We document three important facts on U.S. trade: a) the S-shaped cross-correlation function between real GDP and the real net exports share, b) the J-curve between terms of trade and net exports, and c) the weak and S-shaped cross-correlation between real GDP and terms of trade. We find that adding adjustment costs tends to reduce the model's ability to match these stylized facts. Nominal rigidities cannot account for these features either.