Impact of inflation
AUTHORS: Hellerstein, Rebecca
Eclipse of visual education
AUTHORS: Hellerstein, Rebecca
The ongoing revolution in health care: what it means for the New England economy. Summary of Proceedings of a Conference on Health Reform
AUTHORS: Hellerstein, Rebecca; Little, Jane Sneddon
Are we investing too little?
One of the most disappointing features of U.S. economic performance over the past 20 years has been the slowing of growth in productivity and, as a result, in real incomes. For many, the explanation can be found in the low U.S. saving rate. Since the mid 1980s, national saving has averaged just over 15 percent of GDP, compared to more than 20 percent during the 1970s. Thus, one plausible explanation for slow productivity growth, at least in recent years, could be that our low saving rate is constraining investment and thereby depriving the nation of both the tools and the technologies that would leverage human skills.> This article considers whether the decline in the U.S. saving rate necessarily means that investment spending is "too low." The authors show that private domestic investment has fallen less than one might infer from the decline in saving, and business use of credit markets in the 1990s has remained unusually low even as the cost of capital has fallen. They highlight the growing importance of investment in business equipment, especially computers, during the 1980s and 1990s, and they suggest that this shift in the composition of investment, coupled with the rapid decline in computer prices, may account for some of the inconsistencies in saving and investment patterns. In particular, investment spending may be limited by the ability of businesses to absorb the new information technology.
AUTHORS: Hellerstein, Rebecca; Browne, Lynn E.
50 years after Bretton Woods: what is the future for the international monetary system?
On March 18, 1994, the Eastern Economic Association sponsored a roundtable discussion at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, to examine the future of the international monetary system in light of the aims of the Bretton Woods agreement of 1944. The title of the roundtable captured the central concern of each speaker: to what extent can the ideals of the founders of the Bretton Woods system be implemented today? ; It was agreed that a return to a fixed-rate system, as envisioned by the founders of the Bretton Woods system, is not possible today given the changes in underlying economic conditions since that time, in particular, the high degree of integration of financial markets. Each speaker examined the damaging effects of fiscal imbalance and volatility on current exchange rate regimes and on the world economy. To limit volatility, some recommended improving domestic fiscal policy while others emphasized the need for stronger institutional arrangements internationally. This article offers an overview of each speaker's remarks and of the discussion that followed.
AUTHORS: Cononi, Rachel E.; Hellerstein, Rebecca
Inflation, asset markets, and economic stabilization: lessons from Asia
In 1980's, a new convention emerged in the economics profession - that central banks' primary, even sole, responsibility should be controlling consumer price inflation. By the 1990's, this view was gaining credibility in policy circles, and various countries mandated that their central banks make inflation their primary focus (generally with and escape clause in the event of a severe economic shock). Here in the United States, this orthodoxy never gained official status; rather, the U.S. policy goal remains promoting stable long-term growth using a variety of theoretical approaches. ; The recent problems in East Asia, as well as earlier difficulties in Japan, raise the question of whether such a concentrated focus on inflation became tunnel vision. Drawing on the crises in Japan and other Asian countries, with reference to comparable episodes in the United States, this article suggests that a preoccupation with inflation may have lulled policymakers and investors into ignoring useful signals from stock, real estate, and currency markets and from emerging imbalances in the real economy. Whether such imbalances would have been better addressed by monetary policy, or by improved disclosure, supervisory intervention, or tax policy, a broader perspective might have identified problems in Asia before they assumed such crippling proportions. ; This article concludes by suggesting that policymakers may want to look for signs of overheating emanating from asset markets and from emerging imbalances in the real economy, even when consumer prices are well behaved. Signs that high levels of debt may be financing increasingly optimistic investments warrant particular concern. The article also stresses the vulnerabilities that newly liberalized financial markets may introduce and the importance of measures that encourage the private sector to price risk more accurately and force it to bear the costs of international financial crises more fully. Overall, it advocates an eclectic approach to assessing economic performance.
AUTHORS: Browne, Lynn E.; Little, Jane Sneddon; Hellerstein, Rebecca
Sticky prices: why firms hesitate to adjust the price of their goods
Price stickiness?the tendency of prices to remain constant despite changes in supply and demand?has been linked to firms? unwillingness to pay the costs entailed in setting, implementing, and advertising new prices. However, there is little consensus on the size and importance of these ?repricing costs.? Taking the imported beer market as their subject, the authors of this study find repricing costs to be markedly higher for manufacturers than for retailers and conclude that, at the wholesale level, these costs are a significant deterrent to price adjustment.
AUTHORS: Goldberg, Pinelopi K.; Hellerstein, Rebecca
The changing nature of the U.S. balance of payments
Earnings on cross-border investments figure only marginally in net estimates of the U.S. current account, but they represent an increasingly large share of gross flows between the United States and other nations. Because these earnings fluctuate much more sharply than trade flows, they can be expected to create permanently higher current account volatility. Such increased volatility is not necessarily grounds for concern, however; it reflects an international sharing of risk that provides a buffer against domestic economic uncertainty.
AUTHORS: Hellerstein, Rebecca; Tille, Cedric
Have U.S. import prices become less responsive to changes in the dollar?
The failure of the dollar's depreciation to narrow the U.S. trade deficit has driven recent research showing that the transmission of exchange rate changes to import prices has declined sharply in industrial countries. Estimates presented in this study, however, suggest that "pass-through" to U.S. import prices has fallen only modestly, if at all, in the last decade. The authors argue that methodological changes in the collection of import data and the inclusion of commodity prices in pass-through models may have contributed to earlier findings of low pass-through rates.
AUTHORS: Marsh, Christina; Hellerstein, Rebecca; Daly, Deirdre
Who bears the cost of a change in the exchange rate? The case of imported beer
This paper quantifies the welfare effects of a change in the nominal exchange rate using the example of the beer market. I estimate a structural econometric model that makes it possible to compute manufacturers' and retailers' pass-through of a nominal exchange-rate change, without observing wholesale prices or firms' marginal costs. I conduct counterfactual experiments to quantify how the change affects domestic and foreign firms' profits and domestic consumer welfare. The counterfactual experiments show that foreign manufacturers bear more of the cost of an exchange-rate change than do domestic consumers, domestic manufacturers, or a domestic retailer. The model can be applied to other markets and can serve as a tool to assess the welfare effects of various exchange-rate policies.
AUTHORS: Hellerstein, Rebecca