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Author:Cotton, Christopher D. 

Working Paper
Consumption Heterogeneity by Occupation: Understanding the Impact of Occupation on Personal Consumption during the COVID-19 Pandemic

This paper exploits the variation in the unemployment rate of different occupations in the first part of the COVID-19 pandemic to analyze the response of consumption spending to unemployment risk. We find that earlier in the pandemic, higher unemployment risk did not reduce relative spending. However, as the pandemic proceeded, higher unemployment risk reduced relative spending. This pattern held across both essential and nonessential spending categories. We find that “high-risk” occupations had three common characteristics: lower ability to be performed from home, higher physical ...
Working Papers , Paper 20-16

Working Paper
Impact of Occupational Unemployment Risk on Household Spending

The life-cycle consumption and permanent income hypotheses predict that if workers face greater likelihood of unemployment in the future that lowers expected future income, they will save more today. In this paper, we test this hypothesis by looking at the expenditure response of workers to the change in unemployment risk measured at the occupational level. We find that occupational unemployment risk does not have a large impact on consumption expenditure. However, despite investigating multiple forms of occupational unemployment risk for multiple expenditure categories in two expenditure ...
Working Papers , Paper 22-7

Report
Debt, Deficits, and Interest Rates

This paper identifies how a rise in the deficit/debt impacts interest rates by looking at the high-frequency response of interest rates to fiscal surprises. The fiscal surprises are the unexpected components of deficit releases and the changes in official forecasts by the Congressional Budget Office and by the Office of Management and Budget. The paper estimates that a rise in the deficit-to-GDP ratio of 1 percentage point raises the 10-year nominal rate by 8.1 basis points. This is quantitatively similar for other Treasury maturities and for corporate debt interest rates. The paper also ...
Current Policy Perspectives

Working Paper
The Inflation Target and the Equilibrium Real Rate

Many economists have proposed raising the inflation target to reduce the probability of hitting the zero lower bound (ZLB). It is both a common assumption and a feature of standard models that raising the inflation target does not impact the equilibrium real rate. I demonstrate that in the New Keynesian model, once heterogeneity is introduced, raising the inflation target causes the equilibrium real rate to fall. This implies that raising the inflation target will increase thenominal interest rate by less than expected and thus will be less effective in reducing the probability of hitting the ...
Working Papers , Paper 20-2

Report
Consumption Spending during the COVID-19 Pandemic

We use a novel empirical approach to decompose the impact of different economic, demographic, and COVID-19–related factors (such as lockdowns, case counts, and vaccination rates) on consumption spending on a week-by-week basis during the pandemic. This allows us to study how demographic and economic groups were differentially affected by the pandemic while crucially controlling for other factors. Our results imply that Hispanic and college-educated populations showed particularly large and persistent declines in relative spending. We also compute the relative importance of factors in ...
Current Policy Perspectives

Working Paper
The Role of Industrial Composition in Driving the Frequency of Price Change

We analyze the impact of shifts in the industrial composition of the economy on the distribution of the frequency of price change and its consequences for the slope of the Phillips curve for the United States. By combining product-level microdata on the frequency of price change with data on industry shares from 1947 through 2019, we document that shifts in industrial composition led to a gradual reduction in the median monthly frequency of price change from 9.2 percent in 1947 to 6.9 percent in 2019. Other percentiles of the distribution of the frequency of price change show similar ...
Working Papers , Paper 22-9

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