The optimal degree of discretion in monetary policy
How much discretion should the monetary authority have in setting its policy? This question is analyzed in an economy with an agreed-upon social welfare function that depends on the randomly fluctuating state of the economy. The monetary authority has private information about that state. In the model, well-designed rules trade off society's desire to give the monetary authority discretion to react to its private information against society's need to guard against the time inconsistency problem arising from the temptation to stimulate the economy with unexpected inflation. Although this dynamic mechanism design problem seems complex, society can implement the optimal policy simply by legislating an inflation cap that specifies the highest allowable inflation rate. The more severe the time inconsistency problem, the more tightly the cap constrains policy and the smaller is the degree of discretion. As this problem becomes sufficiently severe, the optimal degree of discretion is none.
AUTHORS: Athey, Susan; Atkeson, Andrew; Kehoe, Patrick J.
The optimal degree of monetary policy discretion
AUTHORS: Atkeson, Andrew; Kehoe, Patrick J.; Athey, Susan
Aggregate implications of innovation policy
In this paper we present a tractable model of innovating firms and the aggregate economy that we use to assess quantitatively the link between the responses of firms to changes in innovation policy and the impact of those policy changes on aggregate output and welfare. We show that, to a first-order approximation, a wide range of policy changes have a long-run impact in direct proportion to the fiscal expenditures on those policies, and that to evaluate the aggregate impact of a policy change, there is no need to calculate changes in firms' decisions in response to these policy changes. ; We use these results to compare the relative magnitudes of the impact on aggregates in the long run of three innovation policies in the United States: the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit, federal expenditure on R&D, and the corporate profits tax. We argue that the corporate profits tax is a relatively important policy through its negative effects on innovation and physical capital accumulation. We also use a calibrated version of our model to examine the absolute magnitude of the impact of these policies on aggregates. We show that, depending on the magnitude of spillovers, it is possible for changes in innovation policies to have very large impact on aggregates in the long run. However, over a 15-year horizon, the impact of changes in innovation policies on aggregate output is not very sensitive to the magnitude of spillovers. ; On the basis of these results we conclude that, while it is possible to make comparisons about the relative importance of different policies and sharp predictions about their aggregate impact in the medium term, it is very difficult to shed much light on the implications of innovation policies for long-run aggregate outcomes and welfare in the absence of direct quantitative evidence on the magnitude of spillovers.
AUTHORS: Atkeson, Andrew; Burstein, Ariel
Optimal regulation in the presence of reputation concerns
We study a market with free entry and exit of firms who can produce high-quality output by making a costly but efficient initial unobservable investment. If no learning about this investment occurs, an extreme ?lemons problem? develops, no firm invests, and the market shuts down. Learning introduces reputation incentives such that a fraction of entrants do invest. If the market operates with spot prices, simple regulation can enhance the role of reputation to induce investment, thus mitigating the ?lemons problem? and improving welfare.
AUTHORS: Hellwig, Christian; Atkeson, Andrew; Ordonez, Guillermo L.
Money and interest rates with endogeneously segmented markets
This paper analyses the effects of open market operations on interest rates in a model in which agents must pay a fixed cost to exchange assets and cash. Asset markets are endogenously segmented in that some agents choose to pay the fixed cost and some do not. When the fixed cost is zero, the model reduces to the standard one in which persistent money injections increase nominal interest rates, flatten the yield curve, and lead to a downward-sloping yield curve on average. In contrast, if markets are sufficiently segmented, then persistent money injections decrease interest rates, steepen or even twist the yield curve, and lead to an upward-sloping yield curve on average.
AUTHORS: Atkeson, Andrew; Kehoe, Patrick J.; Alvarez, Fernando
External and Public Debt Crises
The recent debt crises in Europe and the U.S. states feature similar sharp increases in spreads on government debt but also show important differences. In Europe, the crisis occurred at high government indebtedness levels and had spillovers to the private sector. In the United States, state government indebtedness was low, and the crisis had no spillovers to the private sector. We show theoretically and empirically that these different debt experiences result from the interplay between differences in the ability of governments to interfere in private external debt contracts and differences in the flexibility of state fiscal institutions.
AUTHORS: Wright, Mark L. J.; Atkeson, Andrew; Arellano, Cristina
On the need for a new approach to analyzing monetary policy
We present a pricing kernel that summarizes well the main features of the dynamics of interest rates and risk in postwar U.S. data and use it to uncover how the pricing kernel has moved with the short rate. Our findings imply that standard monetary models miss an essential link between the central bank instrument and the economic activity that monetary policy is intended to affect, and thus we call for a new approach to monetary policy analysis. We sketch a new approach using an economic model based on our pricing kernel. The model incorporates the key relationships between policy and risk movements in an unconventional way: the central bank?s policy changes are viewed as primarily intended to compensate for exogenous business cycle fluctuations in risk that threaten to push inflation off target. This model, while an improvement over standard models, is considered just a starting point for their revision.
AUTHORS: Kehoe, Patrick J.; Atkeson, Andrew
Industry evolution and transition: the role of information capital
In this paper, we build a model of the transition following large-scale economic reforms that predicts both a substantial drop in output and a prolonged pause in physical investment as the initial phase of the optimal transition following the reform. We model reform as a change in policy which induces agents to close existing enterprises using old technologies of production and to open up new enterprises adopting new technologies of production. The central idea of our paper is that it is costly to close old enterprises and open new enterprises because, in doing so, information capital built up about old enterprises is lost and time must pass before information capital about new enterprises can be acquired. Thus, an acceleration of the pace of industry evolution leads in the short run to a net loss of information capital, a drop in productivity, a recession, and a fall in physical investment. We calibrate our model of industry evolution, information capital, and transition to match micro data on industry evolution in the United States and macro data from the United States, Japan, and the former communist countries of Europe. We find that the loss of information capital that accompanies a major acceleration in the pace of industry evolution in an economy leads initially to a decade of recession and a five year pause in physical investment before the benefits of reform are realized.
AUTHORS: Kehoe, Patrick J.; Atkeson, Andrew
Government Guarantees and the Valuation of American Banks
Banks' ratio of the market value to book value of their equity was close to 1 until the 1990s, then more than doubled during the 1996-2007 period, and fell again to values close to 1 after the 2008 financial crisis. Sarin and Summers (2016) and Chousakos and Gorton (2017) argue that the drop in banks' market-to-book ratio since the crisis is due to a loss in bank franchise value or profitability. In this paper we argue that banks' market-to-book ratio is the sum of two components: franchise value and the value of government guarantees. We empirically decompose the ratio between these two components and find that a large portion of the variation in this ratio over time is due to changes in the value of government guarantees.
AUTHORS: Atkeson, Andrew; Eisfeldt, Andrea L.; D'Avernas, Adrien; Weill, Pierre-Olivier
Industry evolution and transition: measuring investment in organization
We use a calibrated model of the dynamics of organization capital and industry evolution to measure the size of investment in organization capital in the steady state and the dynamics of organization capital during the transition following a major reform. We find that, in the steady state, aggregate net investment in organization capital is roughly one-fifth of measured output. During the initial phase of transition, the failure rate of plants rises 200-400 percent, measured output and aggregate productivity stagnate, physical investment falls, and net investment in organization capital rises between 300 and 500 percent above its steady-state level.
AUTHORS: Kehoe, Patrick J.; Atkeson, Andrew