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Author:Lunsford, Kurt Graden 

Journal Article
Can Yield Curve Inversions Be Predicted?

An inverted Treasury yield curve?a yield curve where short-term Treasury interest rates are higher than long-term Treasury interest rates?is a good predictor of recessions. Because of this, economists and policymakers often assess the risk of a yield curve inversion when the yield curve is flattening. I study the forecastability of yield curve inversions. Professional forecasters did not predict the beginning of the yield curve inversions prior to the 1990?1991, 2001, and 2008?2009 recessions. In all three cases, professional forecasters failed to predict the magnitude of the rise in ...
Economic Commentary , Issue July

Journal Article
Productivity Growth and Real Interest Rates in the Long Run

Despite the unemployment rate's return to low levels, inflation-adjusted or "real" interest rates have remained negative. One popular explanation for persistently negative real interest rates is that long-run productivity growth has slowed. I study the long-run relationship between real interest rates and productivity growth from 1914 to 2016 and find a negative correlation between these two variables. Hence, low productivity growth has been historically associated with high real interest rates. Since World War II, the correlation between these variables has been near zero. This suggests ...
Economic Commentary , Issue November

Journal Article
Residual Seasonality in GDP Growth Remains after Latest BEA Improvements

Measuring economic growth is complicated by seasonality, the regular fluctuation in economic activity that depends on the season of the year. The BEA uses statistical techniques to remove seasonality from its estimates of GDP, but some research has indicated that seasonality remains. As a result, the BEA began a three-phase plan in 2015 to improve its seasonal-adjustment techniques, and in July 2018, it completed phase 3. Our analysis indicates that even after these latest improvements by the BEA, residual seasonality in GDP growth remains. On average, this residual seasonality makes GDP ...
Economic Commentary , Issue April

Journal Article
Using Advance Layoff Notices as a Labor Market Indicator

We use advance layoff notices filed under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act as an indicator of current and imminent labor market conditions. We have constructed a database of establishment-level notices starting in 1990 by scraping state government websites, contacting state officials, and retrieving historical data. We find evidence that these notices, aggregated to the national level, lead other prominent labor market indicators, such as initial unemployment insurance claims, the change in the unemployment rate, and changes in private employment. The lead ...
Economic Commentary , Volume 2019 , Issue 21

Working Paper
Identifying Structural VARs with a Proxy Variable and a Test for a Weak Proxy

This paper develops a simple estimator to identify structural shocks in vector autoregressions (VARs) by using a proxy variable that is correlated with the structural shock of interest but uncorrelated with other structural shocks. When the proxy variable is weak, modeled as local to zero, the estimator is inconsistent and converges to a distribution. This limiting distribution is characterized, and the estimator is shown to be asymptotically biased when the proxy variable is weak. The F statistic from the projection of the proxy variable onto the VAR errors can be used to test for a weak ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1528

Working Paper
Monetary Policy, Residential Investment, and Search Frictions: An Empirical and Theoretical Synthesis

Using a factor-augmented vector autoregression (FAVAR), this paper shows that residential investment contributes substantially to GDP following monetary policy shocks. Further, it shows that the number of new housing units built, not changes in the sizes of existing or new housing units, drives residential investment fluctuations. Motivated by these results, this paper develops a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model where houses are built in discrete units and traded through searching and matching. The search frictions transmit shocks to housing construction, making them ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1607

Working Paper
Understanding the Aspects of Federal Reserve Forward Guidance

This paper studies the effects of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) forward guidance language. I estimate two policy surprises at FOMC meetings: a change in the current federal funds rate and an orthogonal change in the expected path of the federal funds rate. From February 2000 to June 2003, the FOMC only gave forward guidance about risks to the economic outlook, and a surprise increase in the expected federal funds rate path had expansionary effects. This is consistent with models of central bank information effects, where a positive economic outlook causes private agents to revise up ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1815

Working Paper
Proxy SVARs: Asymptotic Theory, Bootstrap Inference, and the Effects of Income Tax Changes in the United States

Proxy structural vector autoregressions (SVARs) identify structural shocks in vector autoregressions (VARs) with external proxy variables that are correlated with the structural shocks of interest but uncorrelated with other structural shocks. We provide asymptotic theory for proxy SVARs when the VAR innovations and proxy variables are jointly ?-mixing. We also prove the asymptotic validity of a residual-based moving block bootstrap (MBB) for inference on statistics that depend jointly on estimators for the VAR coefficients and for covariances of the VAR innovations and proxy variables. These ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1619

Working Paper
Some Evidence on Secular Drivers of US Safe Real Rates

We study long-run correlations between safe real interest rates in the United States and over 20 variables that have been hypothesized to influence real rates. The list of variables is motivated by the familiar intertermporal IS equation, by models of aggregate savings and investment, and by reduced form studies. We use annual data, mostly from 1890 to 2016. We find that safe real interest rates are correlated as expected with demographic measures. For example, the long-run correlation with labor force hours growth is positive, which is consistent with overlapping generations models. For ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1723

Journal Article
Lingering Residual Seasonality in GDP Growth

Measuring economic growth is complicated by seasonality, the regular fluctuation in economic activity that depends on the season of the year. The Bureau of Economic Analysis uses statistical techniques to remove seasonality from its estimates of GDP, and, in 2015, it took steps to improve the seasonal adjustment of data back to 2012. I show that residual seasonality in GDP growth remains even after these adjustments, has been a longer-term phenomenon, and is particularly noticeable in the 1990s. The size of this residual seasonality is economically meaningful and has the ability to change the ...
Economic Commentary , Issue March

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