Characterizations in a random record model with a non-identically distributed initial record
We consider a sequence of random length M of independent absolutely continuous observations Xi, 1 = i = M, where M is geometric, X1 has cdf G, and Xi, i = 2, have cdf F. Let N be the number of upper records and Rn, n = 1, be the nth record value. We show that N is free of F if and only if G(x) = G0(F (x)) for some cdf G0 and that if E (|X2|) is finite so is E |Rn|) for n = 2 whenever N = n or N = n. We prove that the distribution of N along with appropriately chosen subsequences of E(Rn) characterize F and G, and along with subsequences of E Rn - Rn-1) characterize F and G up to a common location shift. We discuss some applications to the identification of the wage offer distribution in job search models.
AUTHORS: Barlevy, Gadi; Nagaraja, H. N.
Information acquisition in financial markets: a correction
This note provides a proper example for the mechanism of strategic complementarities proposed in our paper. ; Original paper in Review of Economic Studies, January 2000, v. 67, no.1, p. 79?90.
AUTHORS: Barlevy, Gadi; Veronesi, Pietro
Mortgage choices and housing speculation
We describe a rational expectations model in which speculative bubbles in house prices can emerge. Within this model both speculators and their lenders use interest-only mortgages (IOs) rather than traditional mortgages when there is a bubble. Absent a bubble, there is no tendency for IOs to be used. These insights are used to assess the extent to which house prices in US cities were driven by speculative bubbles over the period 2000-2008. We find that IOs were used sparingly in cities where elastic housing supply precludes speculation from arising. In cities with inelastic supply, where speculation is possible, there was heavy use of IOs, but only in cities that had boom-bust cycles. Peak IO usage predicts rapid appreciations that cannot be explained by standard correlates and this variable is more robustly correlated with rapid appreciations than other mortgage characteristics, including sub-prime, securitization and leverage. Where IOs were popular, their use does not appear to have been a response to houses becoming more expensive. Indeed, their use anticipated future appreciation. Finally, consistent with the reason why lenders prefer IOs, these mortgages are more likely to be repaid earlier or foreclose. Combined with our model, this evidence suggests that speculative bubbles were an important factor driving prices in cities with boom-bust cycles.
AUTHORS: Barlevy, Gadi; Fisher, Jonas D. M.
Robustness and macroeconomic policy
This paper considers the design of macroeconomic policies in the face of uncertainty. In recent years, several economists have advocated that when policymakers are uncertain about the environment they face and find it difficult to assign precise probabilities to the alternative scenarios that may characterize this environment, they should design policies to be robust in the sense that they minimize the worstcase loss these policies could ever impose. I review and evaluate the objections cited by critics of this approach. I further argue that, contrary to what some have inferred, concern about worst-case scenarios does not always lead to policies that respond more aggressively to incoming news than the optimal policy would respond absent any uncertainty.
AUTHORS: Barlevy, Gadi
The cost of business cycles under endogenous growth
In his famous 1987 monograph, Robert Lucas argued that further stabilizing the business cycles that persisted in the post-War era was pointless, because these cycles had a negligible effect on societal well-being. In particular, Lucas demonstrated that society should be willing to pay only a tiny fraction of its consumption expenditures per year to completely eliminate the fluctuations that prevailed over this period. This conclusion has been largely reaffirmed by subsequent studies, and has been commonly cited as evidence that policymakers should abstain from intervening to offset macroeconomic fluctuations of the magnitude that prevailed over this period. ; This paper disputes this conclusion and argues that the business cycles that prevailed over this period were costly, and thus opens the door to the possibility that stabilization policy might be desirable after all. It does this by demonstrating that business cycles can have a deleterious effect on the rate at which the economy grows over the long run. The reason is that cycles lead to volatile investment, reducing the efficiency of investment. Essentially, the fact that investment activity is concentrated in booms rather than spread out uniformly over time creates congestion effects that lower the productivity of investment. I estimate that eliminating the cyclical fluctuations that prevailed during the post-War period would have increased the growth rate of real GDP per capita in the U.S. from 2.0% per year to 2.5% per year. The cost of reduced growth from macroeconomic volatility is computed at a rate of 10% of consumption expenditures per year, over 100 times.
AUTHORS: Barlevy, Gadi
Allocating Effort and Talent in Professional Labor Markets
In many professional service firms, new associates work long hours while competing in up-or-out promotion contests. Our model explores why these firms require young professionals to take on heavy work loads while simultaneously facing significant risks of dismissal. We argue that the productivity of skilled partners in professional service firms (e.g. law, consulting, investment banking and public accounting) is quite large relative to the productivity of their peers who are competent and experienced but not well-suited to the partner role. Therefore, these firms adopt personnel policies that facilitate the identification of new partners. In our model, both heavy work loads and up-or-out rules serve this purpose. Firms are able to identify more professionals who can function effectively as partners when they require new associates to perform more tasks. Further, when firms replace experienced associates with new less productive workers, they gain the opportunity to identify talented professionals who will have long careers as partners. Both of these personnel practices are costly. However, when the gains from increasing the number of talented partners exceed these costs, firms employ both practices in tandem. We present evidence on life-cycle patterns of hours and earnings among lawyers that support our claim that both heavy work loads and up-or-out rules are screening mechanisms.
AUTHORS: Barlevy, Gadi; Neal, Derek
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
Earnings inequality and the business cycle
Economists have long viewed recessions as contributing to increasing inequality. However, this conclusion is largely based on data from a period in which inequality was increasing over time. This paper examines the connection between long-run trends and cyclical variation in earnings inequality. We develop a model in which cyclical and trend inequality are related, and find that in our model, recessions tend to amplify long-run trends, i.e. they involve more rapidly increasing inequality more when long-run inequality is increasing, and more rapidly decreasing inequality when long-run inequality is decreasing. In support of this prediction, we present evidence that during the first half of the 20th Century when earnings inequality was generally declining, earnings disparities indeed appeared to fall more rapidly in downturns, at least among workers at the top of the earnings distribution.
AUTHORS: Barlevy, Gadi; Tsiddon, Daniel
Identification of search models with initial condition problems
This paper extends previous work on the identification of search models in which observed worker productivity is imperfectly observed. In particular, it establishes that these models remain identified even when employment histories are left-censored (i.e. we do not get to follow workers from their initial job out of unemployment), as well as when workers set different reservation wages from one another. We further show that allowing for heterogeneity in reservation can affect the empirical estimates we obtain, specifically estimates of the rate at which workers receive job offers.
AUTHORS: Nagaraja, H. N.; Barlevy, Gadi
Properties of the vacancy statistic in the discrete circle covering problem
Holst (1985) introduced a discrete spacings model that is related to the Bose-Einstein distribution and obtained the distribution of the number of vacant slots in an associated circle covering problem. We correct his expression for its probability mass function, obtain the first two moments, and describe their limiting properties. We also discuss an application of our results to a study of contagion in banking networks.
AUTHORS: Nagaraja, H. N.; Barlevy, Gadi