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Author:Aguiar, Mark 

Working Paper
Emerging market business cycles: the cycle is the trend
Business cycles in emerging markets are characterized by strongly counter-cyclical current accounts, consumption volatility that exceeds income volatility, and dramatic ?sudden stops? in capital inflows. These features contrast with those of developed, small open economies and highlight the uniqueness of emerging markets. Nevertheless, we show that both qualitatively and quantitatively a standard dynamic stochastic, small open economy model can account for the behavior of both types of markets. Motivated by the observed frequent policy-regime switches in emerging markets, our underlying premise is that these economies are subject to substantial volatility in their trend growth rates relative to developed markets. ; Consequently, shocks to trend growth--rather than transitory fluctuations around a stable trend--are the primary source of fluctuations in these markets. When the parameters of the income process are structurally estimated using GMM for each type of economy, we find that the observed predominance of permanent shocks relative to transitory shocks for emerging markets and the reverse for developed markets explain differences in key features of their business cycles. Lastly, employing a VAR methodology to identify permanent shocks, we find further support for the notion that, for emerging economies, the cycle is the trend.
AUTHORS: Gopinath, Gita; Aguiar, Mark
DATE: 2004

Working Paper
Defaultable debt, interest rates, and the current account
World capital markets have experienced large-scale sovereign defaults on a number of occasions, the most recent being Argentina?s default in 2002. In this paper, we develop a quantitative model of debt and default in a small open economy. We use this model to match four empirical regularities regarding emerging markets: defaults occur in equilibrium, interest rates are countercyclical, net exports are countercyclical, and interest rates and the current account are positively correlated. That is, emerging markets on average borrow more in good times and at lower interest rates than in slumps. Our ability to match these facts within the framework of an otherwise standard business-cycle model with endogenous default relies on the importance of a stochastic trend in emerging markets.
AUTHORS: Gopinath, Gita; Aguiar, Mark
DATE: 2004

Working Paper
Measuring trends in leisure: the allocation of time over five decades
In this paper, we use five decades of time-use surveys to document trends in the allocation of time. We document that a dramatic increase in leisure time lies behind the relatively stable number of market hours worked (per working-age adult) between 1965 and 2003. Specifically, we document that leisure for men increased by 6-8 hours per week (driven by a decline in market work hours) and for women by 4-8 hours per week (driven by a decline in home production work hours). This increase in leisure corresponds to roughly an additional 5 to 10 weeks of vacation per year, assuming a 40-hour work week. We also find that leisure increased during the last 40 years for a number of sub-samples of the population, with less-educated adults experiencing the largest increases. Lastly, we document a growing ?inequality? in leisure that is the mirror image of the growing inequality of wages and expenditures, making welfare calculation based solely on the latter series incomplete.
AUTHORS: Aguiar, Mark; Hurst, Erik
DATE: 2006

Working Paper
Efficient expropriation: sustainable fiscal policy in a small open economy
We study a small open economy characterized by two empirically important frictions? incomplete financial markets and an inability of the government to commit to policy. We characterize the best sustainable fiscal policy and show that it can amplify and prolong shocks to output. In particular, even when the government is completely benevolent, the government?s credibility not to expropriate capital varies endogenously with the state of the economy and may be ?scarcest? during recessions. This increased threat of expropriation depresses investment, prolonging downturns. It is the incompleteness of financial markets and the lack of commitment that generate investment cycles even in an environment where first-best capital stock is constant.
AUTHORS: Gopinath, Gita; Aguiar, Mark; Amador, Manuel
DATE: 2006

Report
Coordination and Crisis in Monetary Unions
We study fiscal and monetary policy in a monetary union with the potential for rollover crises in sovereign debt markets. Member-country fiscal authorities lack commitment to repay their debt and choose fiscal policy independently. A common monetary authority chooses inflation for the union, also without commitment. We first describe the existence of a fiscal externality that arises in the presence of limited commitment and leads countries to over-borrow; this externality rationalizes the imposition of debt ceilings in a monetary union. We then investigate the impact of the composition of debt in a monetary union, that is the fraction of high-debt versus low-debt members, on the occurrence of self-fulfilling debt crises. We demonstrate that a high-debt country may be less vulnerable to crises and have higher welfare when it belongs to a union with an intermediate mix of high- and low-debt members, than one where all other members are low-debt. This contrasts with the conventional wisdom that all countries should prefer a union with low-debt members, as such a union can credibly deliver low inflation. These findings shed new light on the criteria for an optimal currency area in the presence of rollover crises.
AUTHORS: Amador, Manuel; Farhi, Emmanuel; Gopinath, Gita; Aguiar, Mark
DATE: 2015-05-11

Report
Self-Fulfilling Debt Dilution: Maturity and Multiplicity in Debt Models
We establish that creditor beliefs regarding future borrowing can be self-fulfilling, leading to multiple equilibria with markedly different debt accumulation patterns. We characterize such indeterminacy in the Eaton-Gersovitz sovereign debt model augmented with long maturity bonds. Two necessary conditions for the multiplicity are: (i) the government is more impatient than foreign creditors, and (ii) there are deadweight losses from default; both are realistic and standard assumptions in the quantitative literature. The multiplicity is dynamic and stems from the self-fulfilling beliefs of how future creditors will price bonds; long maturity bonds are therefore a crucial component of the multiplicity. We introduce a third party with deep pockets to discuss the policy implications of this source of multiplicity and identify the potentially perverse consequences of traditional ?lender of last resort? policies.
AUTHORS: Aguiar, Mark; Amador, Manuel
DATE: 2018-05-30

Report
Fiscal Policy in Debt Constrained Economies
We study optimal fiscal policy in a small open economy (SOE) with sovereign and private default risk and limited commitment to tax plans. The SOE's government uses linear taxation to fund exogenous expenditures and uses public debt to inter-temporally allocate tax distortions. We characterize a class of environments in which the tax on labor goes to zero in the long run, while the tax on capital income may be non-zero, reversing the standard prediction of the Ramsey tax literature. The zero labor tax is an optimal long run outcome if the economy is subject to sovereign debt constraints and the domestic households are impatient relative to the international interest rate. The front loading of tax distortions allows the economy to build a large (aggregate) debt position in the presence of limited commitment. We show that a similar result holds in a closed economy with imperfect inter-generational altruism, providing a link with the closed-economy literature that has explored disagreement between the government and its citizens regarding inter-temporal tradeoffs.
AUTHORS: Aguiar, Mark; Amador, Manuel
DATE: 2015-10-16

Discussion Paper
Lifestyle prices and production
Using scanner data and time diaries, we document how households substitute time for money through shopping and home production. We find evidence that there is substantial heterogeneity in prices paid across households for identical consumption goods in the same metro area at any given point in time. For identical goods, prices paid are highest for middle-aged, rich, and large households, consistent with the hypothesis that shopping intensity is low when the cost of time is high. The data suggest that a doubling of shopping frequency lowers the price paid for a given good by approximately 10 percent. From this elasticity and observed shopping intensity, we impute the shopper?s opportunity cost of time, which peaks in middle age at a level roughly 40 percent higher than that of retirees. Using this measure of the price of time and observed time spent in home production, we estimate the parameters of a home production function. We find an elasticity of substitution between time and market goods in home production of close to 2. Finally, we use the estimated elasticities for shopping and home production to calibrate an augmented lifecycle consumption model. The augmented model predicts the observed empirical patterns quite well. Taken together, our results highlight the danger of interpreting lifecycle expenditure without acknowledging the changing demands on time and the available margins of substituting time for money.
AUTHORS: Hurst, Erik; Aguiar, Mark
DATE: 2005

Working Paper
Defaultable debt, interest rates and the current account
World capital markets have experienced large scale sovereign defaults on a number of occasions, the most recent being Argentina?s default in 2002. In this paper we develop a quantitative model of debt and default in a small open economy. We use this model to match four empirical regularities regarding emerging markets: defaults occur in equilibrium, interest rates are countercyclical, net exports are countercyclical, and interest rates and the current account are positively correlated. That is, emerging markets on average borrow more in good times and at lower interest rates as compared to slumps. Our ability to match these facts within the framework of an otherwise standard business cycle model with endogenous default relies on the importance of a stochastic trend in emerging markets.
AUTHORS: Aguiar, Mark; Gopinath, Gita
DATE: 2004

Conference Paper
Measuring trends in leisure
In this paper, we use five decades of time-use surveys to document trends in the allocation of time. We find that a dramatic increase in leisure time lies behind the relatively stable number of market hours worked (per working-age adult) between 1965 and 2003. Specifically, we show that leisure for men increased by 6-8 hours per week (driven by a decline in market work hours) and for women by 4-8 hours per week (driven by a decline in home production work hours). This increase in leisure corresponds to roughly an additional 5 to 10 weeks of vacation per year, assuming a 40-hour work week. Alternatively, the ?consumption equivalent? of the increase in leisure is valued at 8 to 9 percent of total 2003 U.S. consumption expenditures. We also find that leisure increased during the last 40 years for a number of sub-samples of the population, with less educated adults experiencing the largest increases. Lastly, we document a growing ?inequality? in leisure that is the mirror image of the growing inequality of wages and expenditures, making welfare calculation based solely on the latter series incomplete.
AUTHORS: Aguiar, Mark; Hurst, Erik
DATE: 2006

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