The paper studies a fiscal policy instrument that can reduce fiscal distortions, without affecting revenues, in a politically viable way. The instrument is a private contract (tax buyout), offered by the government to each individual citizen, whereby the citizen can choose to pay a fixed price up front in exchange for a given reduction in her tax rate for a prespecified period of time. We consider a dynamic overlapping-generations economy, calibrated to match several features of the U.S. income and wealth distribution, and show that, under simple pricing, the introduction of the buyout is ...
What’s Up with the Phillips Curve?
U.S. inflation used to rise during economic booms, as businesses charged higher prices to cope with increases in wages and other costs. When the economy cooled and joblessness rose, inflation declined. This pattern changed around 1990. Since then, U.S. inflation has been remarkably stable, even though economic activity and unemployment have continued to fluctuate. For example, during the Great Recession unemployment reached 10 percent, but inflation barely dipped below 1 percent. More recently, even with unemployment as low as 3.5 percent, inflation remained stuck under 2 percent. What ...
Forecasting with the FRBNY DSGE Model
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) has built a DSGE model as part of its efforts to forecast the U.S. economy. On Liberty Street Economics, we are publishing a weeklong series to provide some background on the model and its use for policy analysis and forecasting, as well as its forecasting performance. In this post, we briefly discuss what DSGE models are, explain their usefulness as a forecasting tool, and preview the forthcoming pieces in this series.
A New Perspective on Low Interest Rates
Interest rates in the United States have remained at historically low levels for many years. This series of posts explores the forces behind the persistence of low rates. We briefly discuss some of the explanations advanced in the academic literature, and propose an alternative hypothesis that centers on the premium associated with safe and liquid assets. Our argument, outlined in a paper we presented at the Brookings Conference on Economic Activity last March, suggests that the increase in this premium since the late 1990s has been a key driver of the decline in the real return on U.S. ...
Global Trends in Interest Rates
Long-term government bond yields are at their lowest levels of the past 150 years in advanced economies. In this blog post, we argue that this low-interest-rate environment reflects secular global forces that have lowered real interest rates by about two percentage points over the past forty years. The magnitude of this decline has been nearly the same in all advanced economies, since their real interest rates have converged over this period. The key factors behind this development are an increase in demand for safety and liquidity among investors and a slowdown in global economic growth.
Choosing the Right Policy in Real Time (Why That’s Not Easy)
As an economist, you make policy recommendations at any point in time that depend on what model of the economy you have in mind and on your assessment of the state of the economy. One can see these points play out in the current discussion about the timing of interest rate liftoff and the speed of the subsequent renormalization. If you think nominal rigidities are not all that important, you are likely to conclude that accommodative policies won’t do much for growth but will generate inflation. Similarly, if you are convinced that the economy is already firing on all cylinders, you may see ...
How Do Survey- and Market-Based Expectations of the Policy Rate Differ?
Over the past year, market pricing on interest rate derivatives linked to the federal funds rate has suggested a significantly lower expected path of the policy rate than responses to the New York Fed?s Survey of Primary Dealers (SPD) and Survey of Market Participants (SMP). However, this gap narrowed considerably from December 2015 to January 2016, before widening slightly at longer horizons in March. This post argues that the narrowing between December and January was mostly the result of survey respondents placing greater weight on lower rate outcomes, while the subsequent widening between ...
Forming priors for DSGE models (and how it affects the assessment of nominal rigidities)
This paper discusses prior elicitation for the parameters of dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models and provides a method for constructing prior distributions for a subset of these parameters from beliefs about the moments of the endogenous variables. The empirical application studies the role of price and wage rigidities in a New Keynesian DSGE model and finds that standard macro time series cannot discriminate among theories that differ in the quantitative importance of nominal frictions.
Combining Models for Forecasting and Policy Analysis
Model uncertainty is pervasive. Economists, bloggers, policymakers all have different views of how the world works and what economic policies would make it better. These views are, like it or not, models. Some people spell them out in their entirety, equations and all. Others refuse to use the word altogether, possibly out of fear of being falsified. No model is ?right,? of course, but some models are worse than others, and we can have an idea of which is which by comparing their predictions with what actually happened. If you are open-minded, you may actually want to combine models in making ...
Fiscal Implications of the Federal Reserve's Balance Sheet Normalization
The paper surveys the recent literature on the fiscal implications of central bank balance sheets, with a special focus on political economy issues. It then presents the results of simulations that describe the effects of different scenarios for the Federal Reserve's longer-run balance sheet on its earnings remittances to the U.S. Treasury and, more broadly, on the government's overall fiscal position. We find that reducing longer-run reserve balances from $2.3 trillion (roughly the current amount) to $1 trillion reduces the likelihood of posting a quarterly net loss in the future from 30 ...