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Author:Bi, Huixin 

Working Paper
Public Pension Reforms and Fiscal Foresight: Narrative Evidence and Aggregate Implications

We explore the evolution of pension policy across countries and investigate the macroeconomic effects of pension structural reforms in recent decades, in particular those with implementation delays. We first document chronological changes in pension policy for 10 OECD countries between 1962 and 2017. The new data set shows that pension systems rapidly expanded between the 1960s and 1980s, followed by a wave of retrenchments since the 1990s. Structural pension reforms, which are motivated by long-run fiscal sustainability concerns, often come with significant implementation delays. We find ...
Research Working Paper , Paper RWP 20-06

Journal Article
Understanding the Recent Rise in Municipal Bond Yields

In late March, investors sold off municipal bonds at a rapid pace, depressing municipal bond prices and driving up their yields relative to U.S. Treasuries. We find that this initial investor run on the municipal bond market was likely due to increased liquidity demand rather than credit concerns, making the Federal Reserve’s early actions to relieve liquidity stress effective. Going forward, however, municipal bond prices will likely reflect increased credit concerns.
Economic Bulletin , Issue May 27, 2020 , Pages 4

Journal Article
U.S. Federal Debt Has Increased, but Appears Sustainable for Now

The unprecedented fiscal stimulus packages that Congress passed earlier this year provided timely assistance to households and businesses, but also led to a sharp increase in U.S. federal government debt. We find that the current net federal debt level of about 100 percent of GDP does not pose a threat to fiscal sustainability. Over a longer horizon, debt sustainability will depend, to a large extent, on whether the federal government can curb mandatory spending or raise taxes.
Economic Bulletin

Working Paper
Debt-dependent effects of fiscal expansions

Economists often postulate that fiscal expansions are less stimulative when government debt is high than when it is low. Empirical evidence, however, is ambiguous. Using a nonlinear neoclassical growth model, we show that the difference in government spending effects between high- and low-debt environments depends on the wealth effect on labor supply and on whether the government uses taxes or spending to retire debt. Because of interrelated state variables, structural VAR estimations conditioning on debt alone can fail to isolate debt-dependent effects. Also, uncertainty on when the ...
Research Working Paper , Paper RWP 16-4

Journal Article
Fiscal Sustainability: A Cross-Country Analysis

Since the global financial crisis, public debt has risen rapidly in many advanced and emerging market economies. Every country faces a fiscal limit at which taxes and spending can no longer adjust to stabilize debt. But quantifying fiscal limits can be challenging. Different countries have different capacities to service their debt. Moreover, two countries with similar debt levels may face drastically different default risks. {{p}} Huixin Bi introduces a new, country-specific framework of fiscal limits to quantify the maximum level of debt a government can sustain given its economic and ...
Economic Review , Issue Q IV , Pages 5-35

Journal Article
Fiscal Relief during the COVID-19 Pandemic

In response to the sharp economic downturn during the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress passed unprecedented policy relief measures to support households, businesses, and the broader economy. Compared with previous fiscal stimulus responses, these relief programs have been unmatched in size and scope, speed of response, and novelty of design.Huixin Bi and Chaitri Gulati review recent empirical research on three fiscal relief programs—stimulus checks, augmented unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)—to understand their effects on the broader economy as ...
Economic Review , Volume 106 , Issue no.2 , Pages 5-24

Journal Article
Implementation Delays in Pension Retrenchment Reforms

As the global population ages, public spending on pensions has increased dramatically. As a result, policymakers have increasingly focused on pension retrenchment reforms to keep their systems solvent. These reforms usually involve long implementation delays to provide retirees time to adjust their retirement plans. However, long implementation delays also slow the rollback of governments? pension spending, potentially raising long-run fiscal risks. {{p}} {{p}} Huixin Bi, Kevin Hunt, and Sarah Zubairy collect a new data set that tracks implementation delays during pension retrenchment reforms ...
Economic Review , Issue Q II , Pages 53-70

Working Paper
Sovereign Default and Monetary Policy Tradeoffs

The paper is organized around the following question: when the economy moves from a debt-GDP level where the probability of default is nil to a higher level?the ?fiscal limit?? where the default probability is non-negligible, how do the effects of routine monetary operations designed to achieve macroeconomic stabilization change? We find that the specification of the monetary policy rule plays a critical role. Consider a central bank that targets the risky rate. When the economy is near its fiscal limit, a transitory monetary policy contraction leads to a sustained rise in inflation, even ...
Research Working Paper , Paper RWP 18-2

Journal Article
Rainy Day Funds Have Grown as State Tax Revenue Strengthens

Many state governments have seen solid growth in their tax revenues over the past couple of years. We show that recent changes in the federal tax code contributed to the uptick in state revenues. In addition, we show that states have used the recent revenue windfall to build up rainy day funds at a much faster pace than they did before the Great Recession.
Economic Bulletin , Issue October 16, 2019 , Pages 4

Journal Article
The Fiscal Stance of U.S. States

We study the fiscal stance of U.S. states through the lens of state reserve funds. We find that the overall rainy day and unemployment insurance funds have largely recovered since the start of the Great Recession but at an uneven pace across states. More importantly, we find that states are better prepared to meet their own budgetary shortfalls in the event of a downturn than the shortfalls of households.
Macro Bulletin , Issue November 28, 2018 , Pages 1-3

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