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Author:Backus, David K. 

Working Paper
Relative price movements in dynamic general equilibrium models of international trade

We examine the behavior of international relative prices from the perspective of dynamic general equilibrium theory, with particular emphasis on the variability of the terms of trade and the relation between the terms of trade and net exports. We highlight aspects of the theory that are critical in determining these properties, contrast our perspective with those associated with the Marshall-Lerner condition and the Harberger-Laursen-Metzler effect, and point out features of the data that have proved difficult to explain within existing dynamic general equilibrium models.
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 9213

Journal Article
International business cycles: theory vs. evidence

This article reviews recent work comparing properties of international business cycles with those of dynamic general equilibrium models. Two discrepancies between theory and data are described. One concerns the correlation across countries of fluctuations in consumption, output, and productivity: in the data, the output correlation is generally the largest; in theoretical economies, however, for a wide range of parameter values, the consumption correlation is the largest. The other discrepancy concerns relative price movements: the standard deviation of the terms of trade is considerably ...
Quarterly Review , Volume 17 , Issue Fall , Pages 14-29

Report
International real business cycles

We ask whether a two-country real business cycle model can account simultaneously for domestic and international aspects of business cycles. With this question in mind, we document a number of discrepancies between theory and data. The most striking discrepancy concerns the correlations of consumption and output across countries. In the data, outputs are generally more highly correlated across countries than consumptions. In the model we see the opposite.
Staff Report , Paper 146

Working Paper
Dynamics of the trade balance and the terms of trade: the S-curve

We provide a theoretical interpretation of two features of international data: the countercyclical movements in net exports and the tendency for the trade balance to be negatively correlated with current and future movements in the terms of trade, but positively correlated with past movements. We document these same properties in a two-country stochastic growth model in which trade fluctuations reflect, in large part, the dynamics of capital formation. We find that the general equilibrium perspective is essential: The relation between the trade balance and the terms of trade depends ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 9211

Working Paper
Cracking the conundrum

From 2004 to 2006, the FOMC raised the target federal funds rate by 4.25 percentage points, yet long-maturity yields and forward rates fell. We consider several possible explanations for this "conundrum." The most likely, in our view, is a fall in the term premium, probably associated with some combination of diminished macroeconomic uncertainty and financial market volatility, more predictable monetary policy, and the state of the business cycle.
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2007-46

Conference Paper
Long-memory inflation uncertainty: evidence from the term structure of interest rates

Proceedings

Report
Term structures of asset prices and returns

We explore the term structures of claims to a variety of cash flows: U.S. government bonds (claims to dollars), foreign government bonds (claims to foreign currency), inflation-adjusted bonds (claims to the price index), and equity (claims to future equity indexes or dividends). Average term structures reflect the dynamics of the dollar pricing kernel, of cash flow growth, and of their interaction. We use simple models to illustrate how relationships between the two components can deliver term structures with a wide range of levels and shapes.
Staff Reports , Paper 774

Report
International evidence on the historical properties of business cycles

We document properties of business cycles in ten countries over the last hundred years, contrasting the behavior of real quantities with that of the price level and the stock of money. Although the magnitude of output fluctuations has varied across countries and periods, relations among variables have been remarkably uniform. Consumption has generally been about as variable as output, and investment substantially more variable, and both have been strongly procyclical. The trade balance has generally been countercyclical. The exception to this regularity is government purchases, which exhibit ...
Staff Report , Paper 145

Report
In search of scale effects in trade and growth

We look for the scale effects predicted by some theories of trade and growth based on the dynamic returns to scale that arise from learning by doing, investment in human capital, or development of new products. We find little empirical evidence of a relation between the growth rate of GDP per capita and the measures of scale implied by the theory. Restricting attention to the manufacturing sector, however, we find a significant relation between the growth rate of output per worker and the relevant scale variables. We also find that growth rates are significantly related to measures of ...
Staff Report , Paper 152

Report
On the denomination of government debt: a critique of the portfolio balance approach

We show that some classes of sterilized interventions have no effect on equilibrium prices and quantities. The proof does not require complete markets, Ricardian equivalence, monetary neutrality, or the law of one price. Moreover, regressions of exchange rates or interest differentials on variables measuring debt?s currency composition contain no information about the effectiveness of such interventions. Other interventions require changes in monetary and fiscal policy; their effects depend, generally, on the influence of these changes on the economy and not on the intervention alone. In ...
Staff Report , Paper 116

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