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Author:Atkeson, Andrew 

Working Paper
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 ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2015-5

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, 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 ...
Staff Report , Paper 388

Money, interest rates, and exchange rates with endogenously segmented markets

This paper analyzes the effects of money injections on interest rates and exchange rates in a model in which agents must pay a Baumol-Tobin style fixed cost to exchange bonds and money. Asset markets are endogenously segmented because this fixed cost leads agents to trade bonds and money only infrequently. When the government injects money through an open market operation, only those agents that are currently trading absorb these injections. Through their impact on these agents? consumption, these money injections affect real interest rates and real exchange rates. We show that the model ...
Staff Report , Paper 278

Models of energy use: putty-putty vs. putty-clay

Energy use is inelastic in time-series data, but elastic in international cross-section data. Two models of energy use reproduce these elasticities: a putty-putty model with adjustment costs developed by Pindyck and Rotemberg (1983) and a putty-clay model. In the Pindyck-Rotemberg model, capital and energy are highly complementary in both the short run and the long run. In the putty-clay model, capital and energy are complementary in the short run, but substitutable in the long run. We highlight the differences in the cross-section implications of the models by considering the effect of an ...
Staff Report , Paper 230

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 ...
Staff Report , Paper 326

Conference Paper
The transition to a new economy after the Second Industrial Revolution

During the Second Industrial Revolution, 1860?1900, many new technologies, including electricity, were invented. After this revolution, however, several decades passed before these new technologies diffused and measured productivity growth increased. We build a quantitative model of technology diffusion which we use to study this transition to a new economy. We show that the model implies both slow diffusion and a delay in growth similar to that in the data. Our model casts doubt, however, on the conjecture that this experience is a useful parallel for understanding the productivity paradox ...
Proceedings , Issue Nov

Deflation and depression: is there an empirical link?

Are deflation and depression empirically linked? No, concludes a broad historical study of inflation and real output growth rates. Deflation and depression do seem to have been linked during the 1930s. But in the rest of the data for 17 countries and more than 100 years, there is virtually no evidence of such a link.
Staff Report , Paper 331

Modeling and measuring organization capital

Manufacturing plants have a clear life cycle: they are born small, grow substantially as they age, and eventually die. Economists have long thought that this life cycle is driven by the accumulation of plant-specific knowledge, here called organization capital. Theory suggests that where plants are in the life cycle determines the size of the payments, or dividends, plant owners receive from organization capital. These payments are compensation for the interest cost to plant owners of waiting for their plants to grow. We build a quantitative growth model of the life cycle of plants and use ...
Staff Report , Paper 291

Journal Article
On Using SIR Models to Model Disease Scenarios for COVID-19

From introduction: This paper is intended to introduce economists to a simple SIR model of the progression of COVID-19 to aid understanding of how such a model might be incorporated into more standard macroeconomic models. An SIR model is a Markov model of the spread of an epidemic in which the total population is divided into categories of being susceptible to the disease (S); actively infected with the disease (I); and resistant (R), meaning those that have recovered, died from the disease, or have been vaccinated. The initial distribution of the population across these states and the ...
Quarterly Review , Volume 41 , Issue 01 , Pages 35

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 ...
Staff Report , Paper 162


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