Experimental Evidence on Rational Inattention
Anton Cheremukhin, Anna Popova and Antonella Tutino
Abstract: We show that rational inattention theory of Sims (2003) provides a rationalization of choice models à la Luce and gives a structural interpretation to probability curvature parameters as reflecting costs of processing information. We use data from a behavioral experiment to show that people behave according to predictions of the theory. We estimate attitudes to risk and costs of information for individual participants and document overwhelming heterogeneity in these parameters among a relatively homogeneous sample of people. We characterize, both theoretically and em- pirically, the aggregation biases this heterogeneity implies and find these biases to be substantial.


Monetary Policy, Financial Stability, and the Distribution of Risk
Evan F. Koenig
Published as: Koenig, Evan F. (2013), "Like a Good Neighbor: Monetary Policy, Financial Stability, and the Distribution of Risk," International Journal of Central Banking 9 (2): 57-82.
Abstract: In an economy in which debt obligations are fixed in nominal terms, but there are otherwise no nominal rigidities, a monetary policy that targets inflation inefficiently concentrates risk, tending to increase the financial distress that accompanies adverse real shocks. Nominal-income targeting spreads risk more evenly across borrowers and lenders, reproducing the equilibrium that one would observe if there were perfect capital markets. Empirically, inflation surprises have no independent influence on measures of financial strain once one controls for shocks to nominal GDP.


Financial Literacy and Mortgage Equity Withdrawals
John V. Duca and Anil Kumar
Published as: Duca, John V. and Anil Kumar (2014), "Financial Literacy and Mortgage Equity Withdrawals," Journal of Urban Economics 80: 62-75.
Abstract: The recent U.S. consumption boom and the subsequent surge in mortgage defaults have been linked to mortgage equity withdrawals (MEWs). MEWs are correlated with covariates consistent with a permanent income framework augmented for credit-constraints. Nevertheless, many households are financially illiterate. We assess the unexplored linkages between “active MEW” and measures of financial literacy using panel data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). Findings indicate that declines in mortgage interest rates encouraged MEWs. Nevertheless, financially illiterate households were significantly more likely to withdraw housing equity via traditional first or second mortgages (including cash-out mortgage refinancings but not home equity loans). We find that the financially less savvy are 3–5 percentage points more likely to engage in this type of MEW relative to those who answered financial literacy questions correctly. Also significant were state differences in debtor versus creditor interests in bankruptcy, with loan demand effects outweighing loan supply effects across states.


Trends in Poverty and Inequality among Hispanics
Pia Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny
Published as: Orrenius, Pia M. and Madeline Zavodny (2014), "Trends in Poverty and Inequality among Hispanics," in The Economics of Inequality, Poverty, and Discrimination in the 21st Century, ed. Robert S. Rycroft (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger), 217-235.
Abstract: Since the 1970s, the poverty rate has remained largely unchanged among Hispanics but has declined among non-Hispanic whites and blacks, particularly before the onset of the recent recession. The influx of large numbers of immigrants partially explains why poverty rates have not fallen over time among Hispanics. In 2009, Hispanics were more than twice as likely to be poor than non-Hispanic whites. Lower average English ability, low levels of educational attainment, part-time employment, the youthfulness of Hispanic household heads, and the 2007–09 recession are important factors that have pushed up the Hispanic poverty rate relative to non-Hispanic whites. In addition, income inequality is greater among Hispanics than among non-Hispanic whites, although lower than among non-Hispanic blacks. Income inequality is lower among foreign-born Hispanics than among Hispanic natives.


Factors Behind the Convergence of Economic Performance Across U.S. States
Keith R. Phillips, James Nordlund and Roberto Coronado
Abstract: The rolling recessions of the 1970s and 1980s were characterized by industry and region specific shocks that led to large dispersions in the economic performance of regions across the U.S. The 1970s were primarily impacted by sharply rising energy prices that hit the manufacturing states hard while stimulating growth in the energy states. The 1980s began with declines in the Farm Belt, followed by declines in the Energy Belt, the Rust (manufacturing) Belt, and finally, due to declines in defense spending, a decline in the Gun Belt. Simple measures of regional dispersion such as the population-weighted variance of job growth across states show that the economic dispersion was historically high during these two decades. The 1990s saw a continuous decline in regional economic dispersion and the 2000s has seen historically low levels of dispersion. Perhaps the biggest surprise this decade has been the low levels of dispersion of economic performance over the past several years given the significant energy price shocks and the depth of the national economic recession. In this paper, we look at the likely causes of economic dispersion across regions and test for the major influences both in the rise of dispersion in the 1970s and 1980s and the subsequent fall in the 1990s and 2000s. Major factors that we test include state industrial structure, oil price shocks and bank integration.


The Impact of the Maquiladora Industry on U.S. Border Cities
Jesús Cañas, Roberto Coronado, Robert W. Gilmer and Eduardo Saucedo
Published as: Cañas, Jesus, Robert Coronado, Robert W. Gilmer and Eduardo Saucedo (2013), "The Impact of the Maquiladora Industry on U.S. Border Cities," Growth and Change 44 (3): 415-442.
Abstract: For decades, the maquiladora industry has been a major economic engine along the U.S.–Mexico border. Since the 1970s, researchers have analyzed how the maquiladora industry affects cities along both sides of the border. Gordon Hanson (2001) produced the first comprehensive study on the impact of the maquiladoras on U.S. border cities, considering the impact of these in-bond plants on both employment and wages. His estimates became useful rules of thumb for the entire U.S.–Mexico border. These estimates have become dated, as Hanson's study covered the period from 1975 to 1997. The purpose of this paper is to update Hanson's results using data from 1990 to 2006 and to extend the estimates to specific border cities. For the border region as a whole, we find that the impact of a 10 percent increase in maquiladora production leads to a 0.5 to 0.9 percent change in employment. However, we also find that the border average is quite misleading, with large differences among individual border cities. Cities along the Texas–Mexico border benefit the most from growing maquiladora production. We also estimate the cross-border maquiladora impacts before and after 2001 when border security begins to rise, the maquiladora industry entered a severe recession and extensive restructuring and global low-wage competition intensified as China joined the World Trade Organization. Empirical results indicate that U.S. border cities are less responsive to growth in maquiladora production from 2001 to 2006 than in the earlier period; however, when looking into specific sectors, we find that U.S. border city employment in service sectors are far more responsive post-2001.


Offshoring and Volatility: More Evidence from Mexico's Maquiladora Industry
Roberto A. Coronado
Abstract: In recent papers, Bergin, Feenstra, and Hanson (2007 and 2009, hereafter BFH) analyze the impact that offshoring has in employment and output volatility, particularly on the Mexican maquiladora industry. Their empirical results indicate that employment and output in the offshoring manufacturing plants in Mexico are more volatile than their counterparts in the U.S. Such empirical results suggest that the maquiladora industry (offshoring) can help the U.S. industrial sector to better absorb shocks. In this paper, I expand BFH's empirical analysis in different directions. The empirical results I provide here suggest that the volatility in employment and output in Mexico's maquiladoras is greater than the one estimated by BFH. Therefore, offshoring via the maquiladora industry in Mexico can act as a greater cushion for business cycle fluctuations in the U.S.


Did Residential Electricity Rates Fall After Retail Competition? A Dynamic Panel Analysis
Adam Swadley and Mine Yücel
Published as: Swadley, Adam and Mine Yücel (2011), "Did Residential Electricity Rates Fall After Retail Competition? A Dynamic Panel Analysis," Energy Policy 39 (12): 7702-7711.
Abstract: A key selling point for the restructuring of electricity markets was the promise of lower prices, that competition among independent power suppliers would lower electricity prices to retail customers. There is not much consensus in earlier studies on the effects of electricity deregulation, particularly for residential customers. Part of the reason for not finding a consistent link with deregulation and lower prices was that the removal of the transitional price caps led to higher prices. In addition, the timing of the removal of price caps coincided with rising fuel prices, which were passed on to consumers in a competitive market. Using a dynamic panel model, we analyze the effect of participation rates, fuel costs, market size, a rate cap and a switch to competition for 16 states and the District of Columbia. We find that an increase in participation rates, price controls, a larger market, and high shares of hydro in electricity generation lower retail prices, while increases in natural gas and coal prices increase rates. The effects of a competitive retail electricity market are mixed across states, but generally appear to lower prices in states with high participation and raise prices in states that have little customer participation.


Shifting Credit Standards and the Boom and Bust in U.S. House Prices
John V. Duca, John Muellbauer and Anthony Murphy
Abstract: The U.S. house price boom has been linked to an unsustainable easing of mortgage credit standards. However, standard time series models of U.S. house prices omit credit constraints and perform poorly in the 2000s. We incorporate data on credit constraints for first-time buyers into a model of U.S. house prices based on the (inverted) demand for housing services. The model yields not only a stable long-run cointegrating relationship, a reasonable speed of adjustment, plausible income and price elasticities and an improved fit, but also sensible estimates of tax credit effects and the possible bottom in real house prices.


House Prices and Credit Constraints: Making Sense of the U.S. Experience
John V. Duca, John Muellbauer and Anthony Murphy
Published as: Duca, John V., John Muellbauer and Anthony Murphy (2011), "House Prices and Credit Constraints: Making Sense of the U.S. Experience," The Economic Journal 121 (552): 533-551.
Abstract: Most U.S. house price models break down in the mid-2000s due to the omission of exogenous changes in mortgage credit supply (associated with the subprime mortgage boom) from house price-to-rent ratio and inverted housing demand models. Previous models lack data on credit constraints facing first-time homebuyers. Incorporating a measure of credit conditions—the cyclically adjusted loan-to-value ratio for first-time buyers—into house price-to-rent ratio models yields stable long-run relationships, more precisely estimated effects, reasonable speeds of adjustment and improved model fits.


Labor Matching: Putting the Pieces Together
Anton A. Cheremukhin
Abstract: The original Mortensen–Pissarides model possesses two elements that are absent from the commonly used simplified version: the job destruction margin and training costs. I find that these two elements enable a model driven by a single aggregate shock to simultaneously explain most movements involving unemployment, vacancies, job destruction, job creation, the job finding rate and wages. The job destruction margin's role in propagating aggregate shocks is to create an additional pool of unemployed at the onset of a recession. The role of training costs is to explain the simultaneous decline in vacancies and slow response of job creation.


Did the Commercial Paper Funding Facility Prevent a Great Depression-Style Money Market Meltdown?
John V. Duca
Published as: Duca, John V. (2013), "Did the Commercial Paper Funding Facility Prevent a Great Depression-Style Money Market Meltdown?" Journal of Financial Stability 9 (4): 747-758.
Abstract: This paper analyzes how risk premia—and other factors affecting the comparative advantages of security-funded versus deposit-funded short-run debt—altered the relative use of debt funded by securities markets since the early-1960s and the relative use of commercial paper during the recent financial crisis. Results indicate that lower risk premia, higher information costs, and reserve requirement costs induce less relative use of commercial paper and short-run debt funded by securities markets. This paper also finds that Federal Reserve interventions in the money market helped prevent the commercial paper market from melting down to the extent seen during the early 1930s.

Globalization Institute Working Papers

Globalization Institute No. 103

Size, Openness, and Macroeconomic Interdependence
Alexander Chudik and Roland Straub
Abstract: The curse of dimensionality, a problem associated with analyzing the interaction of a relatively large number of endogenous macroeconomic variables, is a prevailing issue in the open economy macro literature. The most common practice to mitigate this problem is to apply the so-called Small Open Economy Framework (SOEF). In this paper, we aim to review under which conditions the SOEF is a justifiable approximation and how severe the consequences of violation of key conditions might be. Thereby, we use a multicountry general equilibrium model as a laboratory. First, we derive the conditions that ensure the existence of the equilibrium and study the properties of the equilibrium using large N asymptotics. Second, we show that the SOEF is a valid approximation only for economies (i) that have a diversified foreign trade structure and if (ii) there is no globally dominant economy in the system. Third, we illustrate that macroeconomic interdependence is primarily related to the degree of trade diversification, and not to the extent of trade openness. Furthermore, we provide some evidence on the pattern of global macroeconomic interdependence by calculating probability impulse response functions in our calibrated multicountry model using data for 153 economies.

Globalization Institute No. 102

How Have Global Shocks Impacted the Real Effective Exchange Rates of Individual Euro Area Countries Since the Euro's Creation?
Matthieu Bussiere, Alexander Chudik and Arnaud Mehl
Published as: Bussiere, Matthieu, Alexander Chudik and Arnaud Mehl (2013), "How Have Global Shocks Impacted the Real Effective Exchange Rates of Individual Euro Area Countries Since the Euro's Creation?" The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics 13 (1): 1-48.
Abstract: This paper uncovers the response pattern to global shocks of euro area countries' real effective exchange rates before and after the start of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), a largely open ended question when the euro was created. We apply to that end a newly developed methodology based on high dimensional VAR theory. This approach features a dominant unit to a large set of over 60 countries' real effective exchange rates and is based on the comparison of two estimated systems: one before and one after EMU. We find strong evidence that the pattern of responses depends crucially on the nature of global shocks. In particular, post-EMU responses to global US dollar shocks have become similar to Germany's response before EMU, i.e. to that of the economy that used to issue Europe's most credible legacy currency. By contrast, post-EMU responses of euro area countries to global risk aversion shocks have become similar to those of Italy, Portugal or Spain before EMU, i.e. of economies of the euro area's periphery. Our findings also suggest that the divergence in external competitiveness among euro area countries over the last decade, which is at the core of today's debate on the future of the euro area, is more likely due to country-specific shocks than to global shocks.

Globalization Institute No. 101

Aggregation in Large Dynamic Panels
M. Hashem Pesaran and Alexander Chudik
Published as: Pesaran, M. Hashem and Alexander Chudik (2014), "Aggregation in Large Dynamic Panels," Journal of Econometrics 178 (Part 2): 273-285.
Abstract: This paper investigates the problem of aggregation in the case of large linear dynamic panels, where each micro unit is potentially related to all other micro units, and where micro innovations are allowed to be cross sectionally dependent. Following Pesaran (2003), an optimal aggregate function is derived and used (i) to establish conditions under which Granger's (1980) conjecture regarding the long memory properties of aggregate variables from "a very large scale dynamic, econometric model" holds, and (ii) to show which distributional features of micro parameters can be identified from the aggregate model. The paper also derives impulse response functions for the aggregate variables, distinguishing between the effects of macro and aggregated idiosyncratic shocks. Some of the findings of the paper are illustrated by Monte Carlo experiments. The paper also contains an empirical application to consumer price inflation in Germany, France and Italy, and re-examines the extent to which "observed" inflation persistence at the aggregate level is due to aggregation and/or common unobserved factors. Our findings suggest that dynamic heterogeneity as well as persistent common factors are needed for explaining the observed persistence of the aggregate inflation.

Globalization Institute No. 100

Thousands of Models, One Story: Current Account Imbalances in the Global Economy
Michele Ca' Zorzi, Alexander Chudik and Alistair Dieppe
Published as: Ca' Zorzi, Michele, Alexander Chudik and Alistair Dieppe (2012), "Thousands of Models, One Story: Current Account Imbalances in the Global Economy," Journal of International Money and Finance 31 (6): 1319-1338.
Abstract: The global financial crisis has led to a revival of the empirical literature on current account imbalances. This paper contributes to that literature by investigating the importance of evaluating model and parameter uncertainty prior to reaching any firm conclusion. We explore three alternative econometric strategies: examining all models, selecting a few, and combining them all. Out of thousands (or indeed millions) of models a story emerges. The chance that current accounts were aligned with fundamentals prior to the financial crisis appears to be minimal.

Globalization Institute No. 99

A Cross-Country Quarterly Database of Real House Prices: A Methodological Note
Adrienne Mack and Enrique Martínez-García
Abstract: We build from (mainly) publicly available national sources a database of (nominal and real) house prices—complemented with data on private disposable income (PDI)—for 19 advanced countries at a quarterly frequency, starting in the first quarter of 1975. We select a house price index for each country that is consistent with the U.S. FHFA quarterly nationwide house price index for existing single-family houses (formerly called OFHEO house price index), and extend the country series back to 1975 with available historical data whenever necessary. Each house price index is seasonallyadjusted over the entire sample period and then rebased to 2005 = 100. The house price indexes are expressed in nominal terms, and also in real terms using the personal consumption expenditure (PCE) deflator of the corresponding country. PDIs are always quoted in per capita terms using working age population of the corresponding country and can be similarly expressed in real terms with the PCE deflator. We aggregate all 19 countries in our database, weighted by their purchasing power parity-adjusted GDP shares in 2005, to compute an average (nominal and real) house price series and an average (nominal and real) per capita PDI series.

Globalization Institute No. 98

Do Mood Swings Drive Business Cycles and is it Rational?
Paul Beaudry, Deokwoo Nam and Jian Wang
Abstract: This paper provides new evidence in support of the idea that bouts of optimism and pessimism drive much of US business cycles. In particular, we begin by using sign-restriction based identification schemes to isolate innovations in optimism or pessimism and we document the extent to which such episodes explain macroeconomic fluctuations. We then examine the link between these identified mood shocks and subsequent developments in fundamentals using alternative identification schemes (i.e., variants of the maximum forecast error variance approach). We find that there is a very close link between the two, suggesting that agents' feelings of optimism and pessimism are at least partially rational as total factor productivity (TFP) is observed to rise 8–10 quarters after an initial bout of optimism. While this later finding is consistent with some previous findings in the news shock literature, we cannot rule out that such episodes reflect self-fulfilling beliefs. Overall, we argue that mood swings account for over 50 percent of business-cycle fluctuations in hours and output.

Globalization Institute No. 96

A Real-Time Historical Database for the OECD
Adriana Z. Fernandez, Evan F. Koenig and Alex Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy
Abstract: Ongoing economic globalization makes real-time international data increasingly relevant, though little work has been done on collecting and analyzing real-time data for economies other than the U.S. In this paper, we introduce and examine a new international real-time dataset assembled from original quarterly releases of 13 quarterly variables presented in the OECD Main Economic Indicators from 1962 to 1998 for 26 OECD countries. By merging this data with the current OECD real-time dataset, which starts in 1999, researchers get access to a standard, up-to-date resource. To illustrate the importance of using real-time data in macroeconomic analysis, we consider five economic applications analyzed from a real-time perspective.

Globalization Institute No. 95

Borders and Big Macs
Anthony Landry
Published as: Landry, Anthony (2013), "Borders and Big Mac," Economics Letters 120 (2): 318-322. 
Abstract: I measure the extent of international market segmentation using local, national, and international Big Mac prices. I show that the bulk of time-series price volatility observed across the United States arises between neighboring locations. Using these data, I provide new estimates of border frictions for 14 countries. I find that borders generally introduce only small price wedges, far smaller than those observed across neighboring locations. When expressing these wedges in terms of distance equivalents, I find that border widths are small in relation to price variations observed across the United States. This suggests that international markets are well integrated.

Globalization Institute No. 89

Financial Integration and International Business Cycle Co-movement: Wealth Effects vs. Balance Sheet Effects
Scott Davis
Published as: Davis, J. Scott (2014), "Financial Integration and International Business Cycle Co-movement," Journal of Monetary Economics 64: 99-111. 
Abstract: This paper investigates the effect of international financial integration on international business cycle co-movement. We first show with a reduced form empirical approach how capital market integration (equity) has a negative effect on business cycle co-movement while credit market integration (debt) has a positive effect. We then construct a model that can replicate these empirical results. In the model, capital market integration is modeled as crossborder equity ownership and involves wealth effects. Credit market integration is modeled as cross-border borrowing and lending between credit constrained entrepreneurs and banks, and thus involves balance sheet effects. The wealth effect tends to reduce cross-country output correlation, but balance sheet effects serve to increase correlation as a negative shock in one country causes loan losses on the balance sheets of foreign banks. In versions of the model with a financial accelerator and balance sheet effects, credit market integration has a positive effect on cyclical correlation. However, in versions of the model without the financial accelerator and balance sheet effects, credit market integration has a negative effect on cyclical correlation.

Globalization Institute No. 85

Optimal Monetary Policy Under Financial Sector Risk
Scott Davis and Kevin X.D. Huang
Abstract: We consider whether or not a central bank should respond directly to financial market conditions when setting monetary policy. Specifically, should a central bank put weight on interbank lending spreads in its Taylor rule policy function? Using a model with risk and balance sheet effects in both the real and financial sectors (Davis, "The Adverse Feedback Loop and the Effects of Risk in the both the Real and Financial Sectors" Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper No. 66, November 2010) we find that when the conventional parameters in the Taylor rule (the coefficients on the lagged interest rate, inflation, and the output gap) are optimally chosen, the central bank should not put any weight on endogenous fluctuations in the interbank lending spread. However, the central bank should adjust the risk free rate in response to fluctuations in the spread that occur because of exogenous financial shocks, but we find that the central bank should not be too aggressive in its easing policy. Optimal policy calls for a two-thirds of a percentage point cut in the risk free rate in response to a financial shock that causes a one percentage point increase in interbank lending spreads.

Globalization Institute No. 74

A Redux of the Workhorse NOEM Model with Capital Accumulation and Incomplete Asset Markets
Enrique Martínez-García
Abstract: I build a symmetric two-country model that incorporates nominal rigidities, local-currency pricing and monopolistic competition distorting the goods markets. The model is similar to the framework developed in Martínez-García and Søndergaard (2008a, 2008b), but it also introduces frictions in the assets markets by restricting the financial assets available to two uncontingent nominal bonds in zero-net supply and by adding quadratic costs on international borrowing (see, e.g., Benigno and Thoenissen (2008) and Benigno (2009). The technical part of the paper contains three basic calculations. First, I derive the equilibrium conditions of the open economy model under local-currency pricing and incomplete asset markets. Second, I compute the zero-inflation (deterministic) steady state and discuss what happens with a non-zero net foreign asset position. Third, I derive the log-linearization of the equilibrium conditions around the deterministic steady state. The quantitative part of the paper aims to give a broad overview of the role that incomplete international asset markets can play in accounting for the persistence and volatility of the real exchange rate. I find that the simulation of the incomplete and complete asset markets models is almost indistinguishable whenever the business cycle is driven primarily by either nonpersistent monetary or persistent productivity (but not permanent) shocks. In turn, asset market incompleteness has more sizeable wealth effects whenever the cycle is driven by persistent (but not permanent) investment-specific technology shocks, resulting in significantly lower real exchange rate volatility.

Globalization Institute No. 70

Exchange Rate Pass-through: Evidence Based on Vector Autoregression with Sign Restrictions
Lian An and Jian Wang
Published as: An, Lisa and Jian Wang (2012), "Exchange Rate Pass-through: Evidence Based on Vector Autoregression with Sign Restrictions," Open Economies Review 23 (2): 359-380. 
Abstract: We estimate exchange rate pass-through (PT) into import, producer and consumer price indexes for nine OECD countries, using a method proposed by Uhlig (2005). In a Vector Autoregression (VAR) model, we identify the exchange rate shock by imposing restrictions on the signs of impulse responses for a small subset of variables. These restrictions are consistent with a large class of theoretical models and previous empirical findings. We find that exchange rate PT is less than one at both short and long horizons. Among three price indexes, exchange rate PT is greatest for import price index and smallest for consumer price index. In addition, greater exchange rate PT is found in an economy which has a smaller size, higher import share, more persistent exchange rate, more volatile monetary policy, higher inflation rate, and less volatile aggregate demand.