Financial Contracting with Enforcement Externalities
We study the negative feedback loop between the aggregate default rate and the efficacy of enforcement in a model of debt-financed entrepreneurial activity. The novel feature of our model is that enforcement capacity is accumulated ex ante and thus subject to depletion ex post. We characterize the effect of shocks that deplete enforcement resources on the aggregate default rate and credit supply. In the model default decisions by entrepreneurs are strategic complements, leading to multiple equilibria. We propose a global game selection to overcome equilibrium indeterminacy and show how shocks ...
Why Credit Cards Played a Surprisingly Big Role in the Great Recession
Lukasz Drozd examines the links between zero-APR credit card offers and the Great Recession’s persistent declines in employment and output.
Financial contracting with enforcement externalities
Contract enforceability in financial markets often depends on the aggregate actions of agents. For example, high default rates in credit markets can delay legal enforcement or reduce the value of collateral, incentivizing even more defaults and potentially affecting credit supply. We develop a theory of credit provision in which enforceability of individual contracts is linked to aggregate behavior. The central element behind this link is enforcement capacity, which is endogenously determined by investments in enforcement infrastructure. Our paper sheds new light on the emergence of credit ...
Long-Run Trade Elasticity and the Trade-Comovement Puzzle
We show that the trade-comovement puzzle - theory's failure to account for the positive relation between trade and business cycle synchronization - is intimately related to its counterfactual implication that short- and long-run trade elasticities are equal. Based on this insight, we show that modeling the disconnect between the low short- and the high long-run trade elasticity in consistency with the data is promising in resolving the puzzle. In a broader context, our findings are relevant for analyzing business cycle transmission in a large class of models and caution against the use of ...
Responding to COVID-19: A Note
We consider several epidemiological simulations of the COVID-19 pandemic using the textbook SIR model and discuss the basic implications of these results for crafting an adequate response to the ensuing economic crisis. Our simulations are meant to be illustrative of the ﬁndings reported in the epidemiological literature using more sophisticated models (e.g., Ferguson et al. (2020)). The key observation we stress is that moderating the epidemiological response of social distancing according to the models may come at a steep price of extending the duration of the pandemic and hence the time ...
The Trade-Comovement Puzzle
Standard international transmission mechanism of productivity shocks predicts a weak endogenous linkage between trade and business cycle synchronization: a problem known as the trade-comovement puzzle. We provide the foundational analysis of the puzzle, pointing to three natural candidate resolutions: i) financial market frictions; ii) Greenwood–Hercowitz–Huffman preferences; and iii) dynamic trade elasticity that is low in the short run but high in the long run. We show the effects of each of these candidate resolutions analytically and evaluate them quantitatively. We find that, while ...
Understanding international prices: customers as capital
This paper develops a theory of pricing-to-market driven by marketing and bargaining frictions. Our key innovation is a capital theoretic model of marketing in which relations with customers are valuable. In our model, producers search and form long-lasting relations with their customers, and marketing helps overcome the search frictions involved in forming such matches. In the context of international business cycle patterns, the model accounts for observations that are puzzles for a large class of theories: (i) pricing-to-market, (ii) positive correlation of aggregate real export and import ...
Credit Enforcement Cycles
Empirical evidence suggests that widespread financial distress, by disrupting enforcement of credit contracts, can be self-propagatory and adversely affect the supply of credit. We propose a unifying theory that models the interplay between enforcement, borrower default decisions, and the provision of credit. The central tenets of our framework are the presence of capacity constrained enforcement and borrower heterogeneity. We show that, despite heterogeneity, borrowers tend to coordinate their default choices, leading to fragility and to credit rationing. Our model provides a rationale for ...
The Policy Perils of Low Interest Rates
Well before central banks slashed rates to fight the Great Recession, long-term market rates began slipping. With no reversal in sight, will policymakers lose their main recession-fighting tool?
The Future of Labor: Automation and the Labor Share in the Second Machine Age
We study the effect of modern automation on firm-level labor shares using a 2018 survey of 1,618 manufacturing firms in China. We exploit geographic and industry variation built into the design of subsidies for automation paid under a vast government industrialization program, “Made In China 2025,” to construct an instrument for automation investment. We use a canonical CES framework of automation and develop a novel methodology to structurally estimate the elasticity of substitution between labor and automation capital among automating firms, which for our preferred specification is 3.8. ...