Multiproduct firms and price-setting: theory and evidence from U.S. producer prices
In this paper, we establish three new facts about price-setting by multiproduct firms and contribute a model that can explain our findings. Our findings have important implications for real effects of nominal shocks and provide guidance for how to model pricing decisions of firms. On the empirical side, using micro-data on U.S. producer prices, we first show that firms selling more goods adjust their prices more frequently but on average by smaller amounts. Moreover, the higher the number of goods, the lower is the fraction of positive price changes and the more dispersed the distribution of price changes. Second, we document substantial synchronization of price changes within firms across products and show that synchronization plays a dominant role in explaining pricing dynamics. Third, we find that within-firm synchronization of price changes increases as the number of goods increases. On the theoretical side, we present a state-dependent pricing model where multiproduct firms face both aggregate and idiosyncratic shocks. When we allow for firm-specific menu costs and trend inflation, the model matches the empirical findings.
AUTHORS: Bhattarai, Saroj; Schoenle, Raphael
Hedging against the government: a solution to the home asset bias puzzle
This paper explains two puzzling facts: international nominal bonds and equity portfolios are biased domestically. In our two-country model, holding domestic government nominal debt provides a hedge against shocks to bond returns and the impact on taxes they induce. For this result, only two features are essential: some nominal risk and taxes falling only on domestic agents. A third feature explains why agents choose to hold primarily domestic equity: government spending falls on domestic goods. Then, an increase in government spending raises the returns on domestic equity, providing a hedge against the subsequent increase in taxes. These conclusions are robust to a wide range of preference parameter values and the incompleteness of financial markets. A calibrated version of the model predicts asset holdings that quantitatively match the data.
AUTHORS: Berriel, Tiago C.; Bhattarai, Saroj
Optimal monetary and fiscal policy at the zero lower bound in a small open economy
We investigate open economy dimensions of optimal monetary and fiscal policy at the zero lower bound (ZLB) in a small open economy model. At positive interest rates, the trade elasticity has negligible effects on optimal policy. In contrast, at the ZLB, the trade elasticity plays a key role in optimal policy prescriptions. The way in which the trade elasticity shapes policy depends on the government's ability to commit. Under discretion, the increase in government spending at the ZLB depends critically on the trade elasticity. Under commitment, the difference between future and current policies, both for domestic inflation and government spending, is smaller when the trade elasticity is higher.
AUTHORS: Egorov, Konstantin; Bhattarai, Saroj
Global Spillover Effects of US Uncertainty
We study spillover effects of US uncertainty fluctuations using panel data from fifteen emerging market economies (EMEs). A US uncertainty shock negatively affects EME stock prices and exchange rates, raises EME country spreads, and leads to capital outflows from them. Moreover, it decreases EME output, while increasing their consumer prices and net exports. The negative effects on output, exchange rates, and stock prices are weaker, but the effects on capital and trade flows stronger, for South American countries compared to other EMEs. We present a model of a small open economy that faces an external shock to interpret our findings.
AUTHORS: Park, Woong Yong; Chatterjee, Arpita; Bhattarai, Saroj
Inflation dynamics: the role of public debt and policy regimes
We investigate the roles of a time-varying inflation target and monetary and fiscal policy stances on the dynamics of inflation in a DSGE model. Under an active monetary and passive fiscal policy regime, inflation closely follows the path of the inflation target and a stronger reaction of monetary policy to inflation decreases the equilibrium response of inflation to non-policy shocks. In sharp contrast, under an active fiscal and passive monetary policy regime, inflation moves in an opposite direction from the inflation target and a stronger reaction of monetary policy to inflation increases the equilibrium response of inflation to non-policy shocks. Moreover, a weaker response of fiscal policy to debt decreases the response of inflation to non-policy shocks. These results are due to variation in the value of public debt that leads to wealth effects on households. Finally, under a passive monetary and passive fiscal policy regime, both monetary and fiscal policy stances affect inflation dynamics, but because of a role for self-fulfilling beliefs due to equilibrium indeterminacy, theory provides no clear answer on the overall behavior of inflation. We characterize these results analytically in a simple model and numerically in a richer quantitative model.
AUTHORS: Park, Woong Yong; Bhattarai, Saroj; Lee, Jae Won
Policy regimes, policy shifts, and U.S. business cycles
Using an estimated DSGE model that features monetary and fiscal policy interactions and allows for equilibrium indeterminacy, we find that a passive monetary and passive fiscal policy regime prevailed in the pre-Volcker period while an active monetary and passive fiscal policy regime prevailed post-Volcker. Since both monetary and fiscal policies were passive pre-Volcker, there was equilibrium indeterminacy which resulted in substantially different transmission mechanisms of policy as compared to conventional models: unanticipated increases in interest rates increased inflation and output while unanticipated increases in lump-sum taxes decreased inflation and output. Unanticipated shifts in monetary and fiscal policies however, played no substantial role in explaining the variation of inflation and output at any horizon in either of the time periods. Pre-Volcker, in sharp contrast to post- Volcker, we find that a time-varying inflation target does not explain low-frequency movements in inflation. A combination of shocks account for the dynamics of output, inflation, and government debt, with the relative importance of a particular shock quite different in the two time-periods due to changes in the systematic responses of policy. Finally, in a counterfactual exercise, we show that had the monetary policy regime of the post-Volcker era been in place pre-Volcker, inflation volatility would have been lower by 34% and the rise of inflation in the 1970s would not have occurred.
AUTHORS: Park, Woong Yong; Lee, Jae Won; Bhattarai, Saroj
Effects of US quantitative easing on emerging market economies
We estimate international spillover effects of US Quantitative Easing (QE) on emerging market economies. Using a Bayesian VAR on monthly US macroeconomic and financial data, we first identify the US QE shock with non-recursive identifying restrictions. We estimate strong and robust macroeconomic and financial impacts of the US QE shock on US output, consumer prices, long-term yields, and asset prices. The identified US QE shock is then used in a monthly Bayesian panel VAR for emerging market economies to infer the spillover effects on these countries. We find that an expansionary US QE shock has significant effects on financial variables in emerging market economies. It leads to an exchange rate appreciation, a reduction in long-term bond yields, a stock market boom, and an increase in capital inflows to these countries. These effects on financial variables are stronger for the ?Fragile Five? countries compared to other emerging market economies. We however do not find significant effects of the US QE shock on output and consumer prices of emerging markets.
AUTHORS: Bhattarai, Saroj; Chatterjee, Arpita; Park, Woong Yong
Optimal monetary policy in a currency union with interest rate spreads
We introduce ?financial imperfections? - asymmetric net wealth positions, incomplete risksharing, and interest rate spread across member countries - in a prototypical two-country currency union model and study implications for monetary policy transmission mechanism and optimal policy. In addition to, and independent from, the standard transmission mechanism associated with nominal rigidities, financial imperfections introduce a wealth redistribution role for monetary policy. Moreover, the two mechanisms reinforce each other and amplify the effects of monetary policy. On the normative side, financial imperfections, via interactions with nominal rigidities, generate two novel policy trade-offs. First, the central bank needs to pay attention to distributional efficiency in addition to macroeconomic (and price level) stability, which implies that a strict inflation targeting policy of setting union-wide inflation to zero is never optimal. Second, the interactions lead to a trade-off in stabilizing relative consumption versus the relative price gap (the deviation of relative prices from their efficient level) across countries, which implies that the central bank allows for less flexibility in relative prices. Finally, we consider how the central bank should respond to a financial shock that causes an increase in the interest rate spread. Under optimal policy, the central bank strongly decreases the deposit rate, which reduces aggregate and distributional inefficiencies by mitigating the drop in output and inflation and the rise in relative consumption and prices. Such a policy response can be well approximated by a spreadadjusted Taylor rule as it helps the real interest rate track the efficient rate of interest.
AUTHORS: Bhattarai, Saroj; Lee, Jae Won; Park, Woong Yong
Price indexation, habit formation, and the Generalized Taylor Principle
We prove that the Generalized Taylor Principle, under which the nominal interest rate reacts more than one-for-one to inflation in the long run, is a necessary and (under some extra mild restrictions on parameters) sufficient condition for determinacy in a sticky price model with positive steady-state inflation, interest rate smoothing in monetary policy, partial dynamic price indexation, and habit formation in consumption.
AUTHORS: Bhattarai, Saroj; Park, Woong Yong; Lee, Jae Won
Is increased price flexibility stabilizing? Redux
We study the implications of increased price flexibility on aggregate output volatility in a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model. First, using a simplified version of the model, we show analytically that the results depend on the shocks driving the economy and the systematic response of monetary policy to inflation: More flexible prices amplify the effect of demand shocks on output if interest rates do not respond strongly to inflation, while higher flexibility amplifies the effect of supply shocks on output if interest rates are very responsive to inflation. Next, we estimate a medium-scale DSGE model using post-WWII U.S. data and Bayesian methods and, conditional on the estimates of structural parameters and shocks, ask: Would the U.S. economy have been more or less stable had prices been more flexible than historically? Our main finding is that increased price flexibility would have been destabilizing for output and employment.
AUTHORS: Schoenle, Raphael; Bhattarai, Saroj; Eggertsson, Gauti B.