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Author:Athreya, Kartik B. 

Briefing
Recent fiscal policy and the manipulation of aggregate economic activity

It is widely believed that public sector spending and investment can restore aggregate economic activity to efficient levels. But some policy responses are likely to be more successful than others. In particular, directly targeting frictions in capital, labor, and insurance markets arguably provides the best chances of improving welfare.
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Issue Aug

Briefing
The Persistence of Financial Distress

Household financial distress is pervasive. Is this pattern driven by a small share of individuals experiencing persistent distress, by the majority facing more occasional distress, or something in between? Recent research indicates that over a lifetime, financial distress is unlikely for most but very persistent for some. Models that account for the uncertain evolution of consumers' earnings over time and the availability of formal consumer bankruptcy cannot explain ? by themselves ? this pattern, but a model that also allows for informal default and variation in consumers' willingness to ...
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Issue March

Working Paper
Household Financial Distress and the Burden of ‘Aggregate’ Shocks

In this paper we show that household-level financial distress (FD) varies greatly and can increase vulnerability to economic shocks. To do this, we establish three facts: (i) regions in the United States vary significantly in their “FD-intensity,” measured either by how much additional credit households can access or how delinquent they are on debts, (ii) shocks that are typically viewed as “aggregate” in nature hit geographic areas quite differently, and (iii) FD is an economic “pre-existing condition”: the share of an aggregate shock borne by a region is positively correlated ...
Research Working Paper , Paper RWP 20-13

Journal Article
Understanding Living Wills

The requirement for large financial institutions to file resolution plans, or "living wills," as mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act, may mitigate the commitment problem behind TBTF. Analyzing the equilibrium of the game between banks, regulators, and debtholders, is a first step to evaluate the effect of this new policy instrument. As an alternative to regulators tying their hands so that they are not able to intervene with a bailout in the event of financial distress, living wills are meant to make the outcomes from bankruptcy better for society. This is achieved by evaluating, and guiding, ...
Economic Quarterly , Issue 3Q , Pages 193-223

Journal Article
OPINION: Why Do College Graduates Earn More?

Econ Focus , Issue 2Q , Pages 44-44

Working Paper
The Persistence of Financial Distress

Using recently available proprietary panel data, we show that while many (35%) US consumers experience financial distress at some point in the life cycle, most of the events of financial distress are primarily concentrated in a much smaller proportion of consumers in persistent trouble. Roughly 10% of consumers are distressed for more than a quarter of the life cycle, and less than 10% of borrowers account for half of all distress events. These facts can be largely accounted for in a straightforward extension of a workhorse model of defaultable debt that accommodates a simple form of ...
Working Papers , Paper 2017-38

Journal Article
Implications of some alternatives to capital income taxation

Economic Quarterly , Volume 93 , Issue Win , Pages 31-55

Working Paper
Household Financial Distress and the Burden of 'Aggregate' Shocks

The goal of this paper is to show that household-level financial distress (FD) varies greatly, meaning there is unequal exposure to macroeconomic risk, and that FD can increase macroeconomic vulnerability. To do this, we first establish three facts: (i) regions in the U.S. vary significantly in their "FD-intensity," measured either by how much additional credit households therein can access, or in how delinquent they typically are on debts, (ii) shocks that are typically viewed as "aggregate" in nature hit geographic areas quite differently, and (iii) FD is an economic "pre-existing ...
Working Paper , Paper 20-12

Working Paper
Household Financial Distress and the Burden of “Aggregate” Shocks

The goal of this paper is to show that household-level financial distress (FD) varies greatly, meaning there is unequal exposure to macroeconomic risk, and that FD can increase macroeconomic vulnerability. To do this, we first establish three facts: (i) regions in the U.S. vary significantly in their "FD-intensity," measured either by how much additional credit households therein can access, or in how delinquent they typically are on debts, (ii) shocks that are typically viewed as "aggregate" in nature hit geographic areas quite differently, and (iii) FD is an economic "preexisting ...
Working Papers , Paper 2019-025

Report
Systemic risk and the pursuit of efficiency

In this essay, senior economist Kartik Athreya identifies systemic risk with the presence of linkages between market participants, where problems for one directly create problems for others. He argues that such situations can arise from the use of contractual arrangements, especially debt that requires frequent refinancing and liquidation in the event of an inability to repay. The presence of spillover effects can, in turn, lead to outcomes in the wake of shocks that can be improved via policy intervention. Nonetheless, he cautions against taking this as a license to intervene after the fact, ...
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