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Author:Alvarez, Fernando 

Working Paper
Labor market policies in an equilibrium search model
We explore to what extent differences in employment and unemployment across economies can be generated by differences in labor market policies. We use a version of the Lucas-Prescott equilibrium search model with undirected search and endogenous labor-force participation. Minimum wages, degree of unionization, firing taxes, and unemployment benefits are introduced and their effects analyzed. When the model is calibrated to US observations it reproduces several of the elasticities of employment and unemployment with respect to changes in policies reported in the empirical literature. We find that: i) minimum wages have small effects; ii) firing taxes have similar effects to those found in frictionless general equilibrium models; iii) unions have large and negative effects on employment, unemployment, and welfare; and iv) unemployment benefits substantially increase unemployment and reduce welfare.
AUTHORS: Alvarez, Fernando; Veracierto, Marcelo
DATE: 1999

Working Paper
Fixed term employment contracts in an equilibrium search model
Fixed term employment contracts have been introduced in number of European countries as a way to provide flexibility to economies with high employment protection levels. We introduce these contracts into the equilibrium search model in Alvarez and Veracierto (1999), a version of the Lucas and Prescott island model, adapted to have undirected search and variable labor force participation. We model a contract of length J as a tax on separations of workers with tenure higher than J. We show a version of the welfare theorems, and characterize the efficient allocations. This requires solving a control problem, whose solution is characterized by two dimensional inaction sets. For J = 1 these contracts are equivalent to the case of firing taxes, and for large J they are equivalent to the laissez- faire case. In a calibrated version of the model, we evaluate to what extent contract lengths similar to those observed in Europe, close the gap between these two extremes.
AUTHORS: Alvarez, Fernando; Veracierto, Marcelo
DATE: 2005

Working Paper
Search, self-insurance and job-security provisions
We construct a general equilibrium model to evaluate the quantitative effects of severance payments in the presence of contracting and reallocational frictions. Key elements of the model are: 1) establishment level dynamics, 2) imperfect insurance markets, and 3) variable search decisions. Contrary to previous studies that analyzed severance payments in frictionless environments, we find that severance payments reduce unemployment, produce negative insurance effects and improve levels.
AUTHORS: Alvarez, Fernando; Veracierto, Marcelo
DATE: 1998

Working Paper
Mandatory Disclosure and Financial Contagion
This paper analyzes the welfare implications of mandatory disclosure of losses at financial institutions when it is common knowledge that some banks have incurred losses but not which ones. We develop a model that features contagion, meaning that banks not hit by shocks may still suffer losses because of their exposure to banks that are. In addition, we assume banks can profitably invest funds provided by outsiders, but will divert these funds if their equity is low. Investors thus value knowing which banks were hit by shocks to assess the equity of the banks they invest in. We find that when the extent of contagion is large, it is possible for no information to be disclosed in equilibrium but for mandatory disclosure to increase welfare by allowing investment that would not have occurred otherwise. Absent contagion, mandatory disclosure cannot raise welfare, even if markets are frozen.
AUTHORS: Alvarez, Fernando; Barlevy, Gadi
DATE: 2014-04-28

Journal Article
If exchange rates are random walks, then almost everything we say about monetary policy is wrong
The key question asked by standard monetary models used for policy analysis is, How do changes in short-term interest rates affect the economy? All of the standard models imply that such changes in interest rates affect the economy by altering the conditional means of the macroeconomic aggregates and have no effect on the conditional variances of these aggregates. We argue that the data on exchange rates imply nearly the opposite: the observation that exchange rates are approximately random walks implies that fluctuations in interest rates are associated with nearly one-for-one changes in conditional variances and nearly no changes in conditional means. In this sense, standard monetary models capture essentially none of what is going on in the data. We thus argue that almost everything we say about monetary policy using these models is wrong.
AUTHORS: Kehoe, Patrick J.; Atkeson, Andrew; Alvarez, Fernando
DATE: 2008-07

Working Paper
If exchange rates are random walks then almost everything we say about monetary policy is wrong
The key question asked by standard monetary models used for policy analysis is how do changes in short term interest rates affect the economy. All of the standard models imply that such changes in interest rates affect the economy by altering the conditional means of the macroeconomic aggregates and have no effect on the conditional variances of these aggregates. We argue that the data on exchange rates imply nearly the opposite: fluctuations in interest rates are associated with nearly one-for-one changes in conditional variances and nearly no changes in conditional means. In this sense standard monetary models capture essentially none of what is going on in the data. We thus argue that almost everything we say about monetary policy using these models is wrong.
AUTHORS: Kehoe, Patrick J.; Alvarez, Fernando; Atkeson, Andrew
DATE: 2007

Working Paper
Interest rates and inflation
AUTHORS: Alvarez, Fernando; Weber, Warren E.; Lucas, Robert E.
DATE: 2001

Working Paper
Time-varying risk, interest rates and exchange rates in general equilibrium
Time-varying risk is the primary force driving nominal interest rate differentials on currency-denominated bonds. This finding is an immediate implication of the fact that exchange rates are roughly random walks. We show that a general equilibrium monetary model with an endogenous source of risk variation?a variable degree of asset market segmentation?can produce key features of actual interest rates and exchange rates. The endogenous segmentation arises from a fixed cost for agents to exchange money for assets. As inflation varies, the benefit of asset market participation varies, and that changes the fraction of agents participating. These effects lead the risk premium to vary systematically with the level of inflation. Our model produces variation in the risk premium even though the fundamental shocks have constant conditional variances.
AUTHORS: Atkeson, Andrew; Kehoe, Patrick J.; Alvarez, Fernando
DATE: 2005

Working Paper
The time consistency of monetary and fiscal policies
Are optimal monetary and fiscal policies time consistent in a monetary economy? Yes, but if and only if under commitment the Friedman rule of setting nominal interest rates to zero is optimal. This result is of applied interest because the Friedman rule is optimal for the standard preferences used in applied work, those consistent with the growth facts. (Replaced by Staff Report No: 305)
AUTHORS: Alvarez, Fernando; Neumeyer, Pablo; Kehoe, Patrick J.
DATE: 2002

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