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Author:Bi, Huixin 

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 government will conduct fiscal consolidations generates wide confidence bands for spending multipliers, further complicating efforts to estimate debt-dependent government spending effects.
AUTHORS: Shen, Wenyi; Yang, Shu-Chun; Bi, Huixin
DATE: 2016-03-01

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 though monetary policy actively targets inflation and fiscal policy passively adjusts taxes to stabilize debt. If the central bank targets the risk-free rate, on the other hand, the same transitory monetary contraction keeps inflation under control, but leads output to contract for a prolonged period of time. The comparison shows that sovereign default risk put into sharp relief the tradeoff between inflation and output stabilization.
AUTHORS: Leeper, Eric M.; Leith, Campbell; Bi, Huixin
DATE: 2018-03-02

Working Paper
Sovereign Risk and Fiscal Information: A Look at the U.S. State Default of the 1840s
This paper examines how newspaper reporting affects government bond prices during the U.S. state default of the 1840s. Using unsupervised machine learning algorithms, the paper first constructs novel ``fiscal information indices'' for state governments based on U.S. newspapers at the time. The impact of the indices on government bond prices varied over time. Before the crisis, the entry of new western states into the bond market spurred competition: more state-specific fiscal news imposed downward pressure on bond prices for established states in the market. During the crisis, more state-specific fiscal information increased (lowered) bond prices for states with sound (unsound) fiscal policy.
AUTHORS: Traum, Nora; Bi, Huixin
DATE: 2019-06-01

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 policy environment. She finds that countries with relatively low government expenditures have significantly higher fiscal limits than countries with relatively high government expenditures. She also finds that sovereign default risks rise rapidly during an economic downturn, suggesting that debt levels viewed as safe in good times can quickly become unsustainable.
AUTHORS: Bi, Huixin
DATE: 2017-10

Journal Article
Examining the Recent Shift in State and Local Pension Plans to Alternative Investments
State and local pension plans have increasingly turned to alternative investments in recent years. The authors found that this shift appears to be across the board; underfunding only partially explains this shift. In addition, they found that switching to alternative investments does not necessarily increase the volatility of returns.
AUTHORS: Herriford, Trenton; Bi, Huixin
DATE: 2017-09

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.
AUTHORS: Bae, Jaeheung; Bi, Huixin
DATE: 2018-11

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 for 12 countries from 1962 to 2017. They find that the average phase-in period for a pension retrenchment reform is about a decade. However, they also find that implementation delays are significantly longer for age-related pension reforms, which account for a large share of pension retrenchments since 2000.
AUTHORS: Bi, Huixin; Zubairy, Sarah; Hunt, Kevin
DATE: 2019-04

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