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Author:Conesa, Juan Carlos 

Modeling great depressions: the depression in Finland in the 1990s

This paper is a primer on the great depressions methodology developed by Cole and Ohanian (1999, 2007) and Kehoe and Prescott (2002, 2007). We use growth accounting and simple dynamic general equilibrium models to study the depression that occurred in Finland in the early 1990s. We find that the sharp drop in real GDP over the period 1990?93 was driven by a combination of a drop in total factor productivity (TFP) during 1990?92 and of increases in taxes on labor and consumption and increases in government consumption during 1989?94, which drove down hours worked in Finland. We attempt to ...
Staff Report , Paper 401

Working Paper
Generational policy and the macroeconomic measurement of tax incidence

In this paper we show that the generational accounting framework used in macroeconomics to measure tax incidence can, in some cases, yield inaccurate measurements of the tax burden across age cohorts. This result is very important for policy evaluation, because it shows that the selection of tax policies designed to change generational imbalances could be misleading. We illustrate this problem in the context of a Social Security reform where we show how fiscal policy can affect the intergenerational gap across cohorts without impacting the distribution of welfare. We provide a more accurate ...
Working Papers , Paper 2009-003

Discussion Paper
Chronic sovereign debt crises in the Eurozone, 2010-2012

Two years after the rescue package for Greece provided by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in May 2010, sovereign debt crises continue to threaten a growing number of countries in the eurozone. We develop a theory for analyzing these crises based on the research of Cole and Kehoe (1996, 2000) and Conesa and Kehoe (2012). In this theory, the need to frequently sell large quantities of bonds leaves a country vulnerable to sovereign debt crisis. This vulnerability provides a strong incentive to the country?s government to run surpluses to pay down its debt to a level where ...
Economic Policy Paper , Paper 12-4

Working Paper
Optimal fiscal policy in the design of Social Security reforms

The quantitative macroeconomics literature has documented that in the basic Overlapping Generations model a privatization of the social security system, going from a Pay-As-You-Go to a Fully Funded system, generates large long run welfare gains at the cost of substantial welfare losses for initial generations. We propose an alternative to previous literature. In this paper we maximize over the entire policy space, following the optimal fiscal policy approach, rather than comparing alternative policy paths one to one. That is, policies are chosen as part of the optimal design of a social ...
Working Papers , Paper 2007-035

Working Paper
Intergenerational policy and the measurement of tax incidence

We evaluate the ability of generational accounting to assess the potential welfare implications of policy reforms. In an intergenerational context policy reforms usually have redistributive, efficiency, and general equilibrium implications. Our analysis shows that when the policy reform implies changes in economic efficiency, generational accounts can be misleading not only about the magnitude of welfare changes, but also about the identity of who wins and who losses. In contrast the generational accounts correctly identify welfare changes when the policy reform has only a pure ...
Working Papers , Paper 2013-016

Journal Article
A primer on social security systems and reforms

This article reviews the characteristics of different social security systems. Many configurations arise depending on the nature of a system?s funding and determination of benefits. Many reforms propose changing the U.S. Social Security system. The authors focus their analysis of the transition from a pay-as-you-go to a fully funded system. They argue that the key component of any reform is the treatment of the implicit liabilities of a country?s social security system. The welfare gains accruing to some cohorts as a result of such reforms usually stem from either a partial or complete ...
Review , Volume 93 , Issue Jan , Pages 19-35

Is It Too Late to Bail Out the Troubled Countries in the Eurozone?

In January 1995, U.S. President Bill Clinton organized a bailout for Mexico that imposed penalty interest rates and induced the Mexican government to reduce its debt, ending the debt crisis. Can the Troika (European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund) organize similar bailouts for the troubled countries in the Eurozone? Our analysis suggests that debt levels are so high that bailouts with penalty interest rates could induce the Eurozone governments to default rather than reduce their debt. A resumption of economic growth is one of the few ways that the Eurozone ...
Staff Report , Paper 497

Working Paper
Optimal response to a transitory demographic shock in Social Security financing

We examine the optimal policy response to a transitory demographic shock that affects negatively the financing of retirement pensions. In contrast to existing literature, we endogenously determine optimal policies rather than exploring implications of exogenous parametric policies. Our approach identifies optimal strategies of the social security administration to guarantee the financial sustainability of existing retirement pensions in a Pareto improving way. Hence, no cohort will pay the cost of the demographic shock. We find that the optimal strategy is based in the following ingredients: ...
Working Papers , Paper 2007-041

Macroeconomic Effects of Medicare

This paper develops an overlapping generations model to study the macroeconomic effects of an unexpected elimination of Medicare. We ?nd that a large share of the elderly respond by substituting Medicaid for Medicare. Consequently, the government saves only 46 cents for every dollar cut in Medicare spending. We argue that a comparison of steady states is insufficient to evaluate the welfare effects of the reform. In particular, we ?nd lower ex-ante welfare gains from eliminating Medicare when we account for the costs of transition. Lastly, we ?nd that a majority of the current population ...
Staff Report , Paper 548

Journal Article
Intertemporal discounting and policy selection

The choice of the intertemporal discount rate affects the measurement of the tax burden of different age cohorts. Small changes in the discount rate affect not only the magnitude of the measured changes, but also the ranking of policies using that metric. The authors illustrate this problem in the context of neutral Social Security reforms. By construction, these policies do not change allocations; hence, they also do not change welfare. However, depending on the choice of the discount rate, one could reach different (and possibly opposite) conclusions regarding the desirability of such ...
Review , Issue Mar , Pages 165-180



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